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Suharto defies probe – Lawyers cite ex-chief’s poor health

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Lawyers for former Indonesian President Suharto say he will not testify Thursday about whether he mishandled funds belonging to charitable foundations he controlled,  the Associated Press reports.

Because of poor health, Suharto will buck a second summons to testify – even though state doctors have declared him medically fit to testify.

“Suharto is still sick,” his lawyer told AP. “Medically he cannot be questioned properly.

Danny Kailimang, the lawyer, said the report by government doctors that concluded Suharto could be questioned was wrong.

But Attorney General Marsuki Darusman said Suharto’s health is fine.

“The doctor’s statement is clear that he is not sick,” he told reporters. “Let us see whether he will really not appear. Then we will take the next step.

On Tuesday, Suharto attended the wedding of one of his granddaughters in east Jakarta. He appeared healthy, walked unaided and chatted with President Abdurrahman Wahid, who also was invited, AP reports.

At the same time, state prosecutors arrested a key member of Suharto’s former inner circle, suggesting the new government means business in its investigation of Suharto’s financial dealings, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Jakarta’s attorney general’s office arrested timber tycoon Mohamed “Bob” Hasan, a longtime Suharto golfing pal, on allegations that Hasan defrauded the state of billions of rupiah through a forest-mapping company he controlled, the Journal says.

Hasan also headed an investment c ompany funded by foundations under Suharto’s control.

Suharto’s lawyers have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on his part, AP says.

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