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Tommy Suharto arrest 'thnx 2 SMS msgs'

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesian police said Sunday the recent arrest of Tommy Suharto, fugitive son of the country's former president, was accomplished partly by tracing text messages sent from his mobile phone.

Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra was arrested last Wednesday in a house on the southern outskirts of Jakarta after more than a year on the run.

Police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam gave few details of the surveillance operation that finally tracked down the former playboy businessman other than to say it was "very complicated".

"Yes, the arrest was party due to SMS," he told Reuters news agency. Asia
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"We have been closely monitoring communications made by brother Tommy to his family and friends through the telephone network."

According to the Indonesian language Kompas daily police were initially alerted by a series of text messages sent from Tommy's phone to a former high school girlfriend.

The woman was questioned by police in October, the newspaper said, and messages sent to her mobile phone were then traced.


The youngest son of former president Suharto went into hiding in early November last year after being found guilty of involvement in an $11 million land scam and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

The corruption sentence was later overturned but Tommy remains a suspect in the murder of the judge who convicted him and of involvement in a series of bombings in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Since Suharto senior was forced from power in 1998 the former first family has been the subject of scrutiny over the massive fortunes they built up during his three decades in power.

However, Tommy is the only family member to have been convicted of corruption.

His arrest has been broadly welcomed by the Indonesian media, but several observers have raised concerns at the hospitable treatment police have given to the suspect once branded as Indonesia's most dangerous man.

On his arrival at Jakarta police headquarters, the city's police chief, Sofjan Jacoeb, hugged Tommy who then sat next to him during a press conference with no handcuffs.

But police have denied the son of the former president has been the subject of any special treatment.

They say the millionaire businessman, once known for his fast cars and glamorous companions, has been kept alone in a police cell with only a thin mattress to sleep on.


• Government of Indonesia

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