Suharto’s son Tommy refuses to turn himself in

JAKARTA, Reuters

Former President Suharto’s youngest son ignored a summons to appear at the Attorney General’s office on Monday to be sent to jail over a graft conviction.

The South Jakarta Attorney-General’s office had summoned Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra to formally give his response to last week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning a lower court’s decision to acquit him over an US$11 million land scam.

Officials had said he would be sent to jail immediately if he did not seek a presidential pardon, later adding he would be summoned again after confusion over the court procedure of getting him behind bars was cleared up.

Jakarta had braced for violence on Monday over plans to jail Tommy and an angry backlash over a 12 percent rise in fuel prices on the weekend.

Hundreds of people from several groups against the price hike protested in the capital, where more than 18,000 police have been placed on high alert. But the protests were peaceful.

Tommy’s lawyer, Samosir, said his client had not yet received formal notification of last week’s Supreme Court decision sentencing him to 18 months in jail.

“Tommy cannot attend because he has not received the notice from the Supreme Court,” Samosir told reporters after meeting officials at the office. Officials were not immediately available for comment and it was unclear what they would do next.

Last week, a court dropped separate corruption charges against Tommy’s father on the grounds that the former president was physically and mentally unfit for trial.

Antasari Ashar, head of the South Jakarta Attorney-General’s office, said on Monday they would wait until Tommy had received formal notification of the Supreme Court’s decision before summoning him again.

Tommy’s jailing and Suharto’s discharge have raised fears of violence from opposing camps. Adding to this is the backlash over the fuel price hike and concerns it may boil over into violence.

A series of bloody bomb blasts have rocked the capital recently, coinciding with increased pressure on the Suharto family. On the other side, many remain angry at the decision to drop charges against the 79-year-old former president, who has suffered three strokes.

That has heightened concerns over a fresh round of violence in Jakarta.

Last week the Australian embassy issued a formal warning to its citizens in the capital over the potentially explosive situation. The U.S. has also warned American companies to be alert to any threats to their operations.

Tommy’s lawyers say they are confident they can keep him out of jail pending an appeal of his conviction. Samosir said they had not yet decided if they would seek a pardon.