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Former Indonesian ruler falls ill

Suharto in a wheelchair during a previous illness  

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Former Indonesian President Suharto is unconscious, and on oxygen, and may be taken to hospital, lawyers say.

On Sunday, lawyer Elza Syarief told reporters: "He is not conscious and there is advice from the doctors to be treated in the hospital. He has had difficulty in breathing since Friday night."

She said Suharto, who was swept from power in 1998 amid mass riots, might be taken to hospital in the evening or some time this week but gave no other details on his condition.

Suharto's lapse comes after Indonesia's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the former president cannot ever be brought to trial because of ill health.

Eighty-year-old Suharto and his family have denied frequent accusations that they creamed off billions of dollars in the 32 years he was in power.

Another lawyer, Juan Felix Tampubolon, said doctors had also put Suharto on a saline drip set up in his room. Suharto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, has had several strokes since leaving office.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court also rejected a government appeal to try the former president for corruption, ruling he was too ill.

A case against him on charges of embezzling some $500 million was dropped last year.

Syarief said Suharto's children and grandchildren were around him on Sunday and she would also ask police to allow his favorite son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, to visit.

Police detained Tommy Suharto late last month after he spent a year on the run over an $11 million land scam.

That graft conviction was overturned but police are questioning Tommy over a judge's murder and a series of bombings.


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