Tommy Suharto charged with murder
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The youngest son of former Indonesian President Suharto has been formally charged with masterminding the murder of a judge who sentenced him in a corruption case.
Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra went on the run in September 2000 after he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for his involvement in a multimillion-dollar land scam.
Ten months later whilst Tommy was in hiding, four men on motorcycles shot and killed Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita -- the presiding judge in his graft trial.
The former businessman, renowned for his playboy lifestyle during his father's rule, was eventually arrested in November last year after a massive and at times farcical manhunt by Indonesian police.
He is currently being held in a central Jakarta prison and has publicly denied any involvement in the judge's killing.
State prosecutors filed the indicment against him at the Central Jakarta District Court Thursday. They say they expect a trial to begin by mid-March.
Apart from the murder charge, which carries the maximum penalty of death under Indonesian law, prosecutors say they have also charged him with illegal possession of weapons and evading justice.
Tommy was the most flamboyant and best known of former President Suharto's six children and is the only member of the family so far to be brought to trial to face corruption charges.
Plans to bring the former leader himself to court collapsed after judges ruled that he was too ill to face trial.
The elder Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron first for more than three decades until massive street protests brought about by the collapse of the Indonesian economy forced him from power in 1998.
During his time in power he and his family were alleged to have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in personal wealth creamed off from state assets and kickbacks given in return for lucrative business contracts.
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