Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Ex-dictator’s son arrested after yearlong manhunt

November 29, 2001


— The yearlong hunt for the fugitive son of ex-dictator Suharto ended Wednesday when detectives raided a mansion and arrested the millionaire playboy for plotting the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had sentenced him for graft.

Hutomo Mandala Putra, known as "Tommy," laughed and waved at a crowd of reporters when he was brought to Jakarta's police headquarters. He became a fugitive 12 months ago to avoid an 18-month prison term for land fraud.

He remained on the run even after the Supreme Court on Oct. 1 nullified the corruption conviction and prison term.

Escorted by dozens of policemen and hugged by one officer, the 39-year-old declared he was ready to face prosecution. Asked about the charges against him, he replied, "At the right time, I will clarify."

Law en-forcement agencies had been ridiculed by Indonesia's news media for failing to nab Suharto's son. The police search included drilling into the basement of his home and using radar to scan his garden for underground escape tunnels.

National Police Chief Gen. Suroyo Bimantoro said a 15-member team raided a house owned by a friend in southern Jakarta. Tommy was asleep and several bodyguards did not try to prevent the arrest, Bimantoro said.

Tommy's lawyer denied he'd been captured, saying his client had chosen to surrender.

Jakarta police spokesman Col. Anton Bachrul Alam said Tommy would be charged with ordering the assassination of Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, as well as illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Kartasasmita was slain by two gunmen on motorbikes last July. After being arrested, they claimed Tommy had paid them to kill the judge.

Police and the government of former President Abdurrahman Wahid have accused Tommy of masterminding a deadly bombing spree that followed his escape, including a blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange that killed at least a dozen people.

He is also suspected of collaborating with separatists fighting for the independence of Indonesia's Aceh province and with other anti-government groups, authorities said.

Before the Supreme Court nullified the conviction, Tommy had been the first member of the Suharto family to be convicted of corruption. Charges against his 81-year-old father were dropped last year after he claimed to be too ill to face trial.

During Suharto's 32-year rule, Tommy built an international business empire worth an estimated $800 million. He was granted control over the lucrative trade in cloves, which is added to perfumed cigarettes favored by hundreds of millions of Indonesian smokers.

He ran airlines, a shipping company and hotels on the resort island of Bali, and was given tax breaks to import automobiles from South Korea as part of the defunct Timor national car project.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.