Indonesia's Suharto Not a Suspect
January 13, 1999


JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesian prosecutors have evidence former President Suharto may have violated the law during his 32-year rule, but are not ready to call him a suspect, a spokesman for the attorney general said Tuesday.

B.J. Habibie, who replaced Suharto in May, has been under pressure to investigate his longtime mentor for alleged abuse of power. Suharto, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.

Prosecutors have found evidence of some wrongdoing in setting up the national car project and the use of funds from some charities, said Soehandoyo, the spokesman for the attorney general's office. They still have to question more witnesses, he said, without elaborating.

Under Indonesian law, people are named as suspects after preliminary questioning, but before formal charges are filed. Prosecutors questioned Suharto for four hours last month.

Critics have alleged that Suharto, who stepped down amid riots and protests, amassed a fortune by siphoning state wealth for the benefit of his children and associates.

Meanwhile, military police said Tuesday they have arrested 15 soldiers as murder suspects after four civilians were allegedly beaten and tortured to death while in custody in the province of Aceh.

A military police chief in the town of Lhokseumawe, Lt. Col. Musmarsono, said nine other soldiers were being questioned Tuesday.

Soldiers raided a village in Aceh on Saturday and rounded up dozens of residents suspected of supporting Islamic separatists. The civilians were locked up in buildings in Lhokseumawe, where they were attacked by troops, human rights activists said.

Aceh, located 1,100 miles northwest of Jakarta, is one of three Indonesian provinces where small groups of rebels want independence.