Suharto inquiry to be put on hold ’till he’s well’

But the new Attorney-General reassures that charges against the former President will not be quashed.

AS FORMER Indonesian President Suharto edged his way to recovery after suffering a mild stroke earlier this week, authorities said yesterday that they would delay investigations of graft charges against him until he is fully fit.

The newly-appointed Attorney-General Ismudjoko said the inquiry would be put on hold, fuelling further accusations here that government officials were dragging their heels over investigating allegations that Mr Suharto had amassed billions during his 32-year rule.

“He is sick,” Mr Ismudjoko told reporters. “So this case will be delayed.

“We won’t disturb him. We want him to rest and recover.”

But he was quick to point out, to perhaps allay public criticism, that this did not mean that the charges against that 78-year-old would be quashed.

“We are not aborting this case.”

However, the Attorney-General Office’s spokesman Soehandoyo, raised this possibility of that happening if Mr Suharto died.

He said: “We will delay the prosecution until he is 100-per-cent healthy.

“The right of prosecution is aborted if the suspect dies.”

There seemed little evidence of this happening with the former strongman’s condition improving further yesterday.

Doctors said he could now talk, walk and eat soft food, after suffering a mild stroke on Tuesday.

Mr Suharto had been unable to speak coherently when he was admitted to the Pertamina hospital.

But the hospital’s director, Dr Sudjono Martoatmojo, said: “His speech is improving. His strength is picking up.

“He is now even attempting to sit and walk.”

Dr Sudjono, who earlier predicted a more-than-50-per-cent chance of recovery, said Mr Suharto would be warded for another week or two for tests.

A CT scan had found a clogged vessel in his brain. Media reports here said that four nerves around the mouth had been affected.

Yesterday, the former President was given physiotherapy to strengthen his hands and feet.

Accompanied by youngest daughter Siti Hutami “Mamiek” Endang Adiningsih, he was also brought to the Magnetic Resonance Imaging testing room to examine his brain, spinal cord and joints.

Speculation was rife that his children wanted to take him abroad for treatment.

A family friend said there were plans initially, but given their father’s improvement, it now did not seem necessary.State Secretary Muladi said the government had yet to receive any report from Mr Suharto’s family of their wish to bring him overseas.

But he said the Habibie administration would have no objections if he wanted to go abroad.

“For the government, there is no problem whatsoever if the former President wants to get medical treatment overseas.”

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