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Protesters want trial for ailing Suharto

January 20, 2008|From Reuters

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Riot police briefly clashed Saturday with about 100 demonstrators calling for ailing former President Suharto to be brought to justice.

The former general has been critically ill for more than two weeks. Doctors said Saturday that Suharto's health had improved and he eventually could recover enough to go home.

Students and human rights activists gathered outside the Jakarta hospital where the 86-year-old Suharto is being treated, but police barred them from entering.

One student was arrested.

Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years, has never been brought to trial for human rights abuses that occurred while he was in power.

The protesters carried banners reading "Treat Suharto as a regular citizen," "Bring Suharto and his cronies to court" and "Confiscate the wealth of Suharto and his cronies."

After Suharto quit office in 1998 amid mass protests, he was charged with embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars of state funds. Authorities later dropped the criminal case because of his poor health, although he faces a civil case related to the use of state funds by his charities.

Doctors said Suharto was still on a ventilator, but his heart and lung functions had improved and there were fewer signs of systemic infection.

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