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Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Suharto crony in corruption trial
Bob Hasan listens to the opening of his trial
Mr Hasan made his fortune in timber
A minister in the government of former Indonesian president Suharto has appeared in court charged with corruption.

Timber tycoon Bob Hasan, who was a close friend and business associate of Mr Suharto, is accused of misusing almost $250m of state and other funds.

Mr Hasan, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), could face spending the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted.

Mr Suharto with guards and nurses
Mr Hasan used to play golf with Mr Suharto
This is the first time a senior minister under Mr Suharto has been successfully brought to court.

Prosecutor Arnold Angkow said Mr Hasan had caused losses of $75.6m to the state and $168.1m to the Indonesian Association of Forest Concessionaires (APHI) of which he was chairman.

The court heard he had signed a contract for aerial mapping of forest concessions in Borneo, but the aerial photographs were of such bad quality that the forestry ministry could not use them.

Mr Angkow said Mr Hasan had employed his own firm to do the aerial photography job at a vastly inflated price.

The alleged offences occurred between 1989 and 1998.

Mr Hasan, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, has not yet entered a plea. The trial was adjourned until 27 September.

Olympics

Mr Hasan, who was Mr Suharto's golfing and fishing buddy, was trade and industry minister in the former dictator's last cabinet before his resignation in May 1998

Mr Suharto, who is currently under city arrest, is also facing charges of embezzling around $570m in state funds in a separate case.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has said he will pardon him if he is convicted. But Mr Hasan has been promised no such protection.

Mr Hasan made headlines last week when it was revealed that Olympics chief Juan Antonio Samaranch had asked Indonesia's government to release him from jail to attend the Sydney Games.

The government said it was stunned by the request, which it refused.

Scores of policemen guarded the courthouse grounds for the opening of Mr Hasan's trial on Wednesday.

Security in Jakarta has been stepped up in recent weeks following a series of bombings which many newspapers speculate have been triggered by Suharto loyalists.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Rise and fall of a timber tycoon
18 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto guards ordered to disarm
16 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tommy Suharto denies bombing
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia warns of timber industry bribes
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