Way open for possible release of Soeharto's son
Jakarta (Antara News
) - The way is open to give former Indonesian president Suharto's youngest son -- jailed for plotting a murder -- a conditional release after his sentence was cut on Tuesday, Justice Minister Hamid Awaludin said.
Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2002 for paying a hitman to kill a Supreme Court judge and other offences. The murdered judge had convicted Tommy in a graft case.
His jail term was later reduced to 10 years in an appeal and has also been sliced several times under an Indonesian practice of sentence remissions for good behaviour.
The latest cut of six weeks is in conjunction with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
"The six-week remission on Tommy Suharto's sentence would open room to grant him a conditional release, because he had served two-thirds of his sentence," Awaludin was quoted by Reuters
as telling reporters.
He added, however, that any such decision would have to be discussed with the prosecutor's office.
Awaludin had been quoted earlier as also saying a release would not be automatic and the attitude of society should be a factor.
Any early release is likely to spark criticism from domestic human rights groups and foreign analysts who say Indonesia needs to demonstrate it does not have a
double-standard in how justice is applied to the poor and weak versus how it works for the rich and powerful.
Many had criticised the original sentence as too lenient considering Tommy's crimes.
A colourful figure with a reputation as a playboy and a hobby of stock car racing, Tommy, like other members of Suharto's family, made millions during his father's presidency.
In addition to Tommy, the government has granted sentence cuts to thousands of other convicts across the country during the celebration of the Muslim holiday.
The remissions included a number for individuals convicted over the Bali bombings in 2002 in which 202 people died, most of them foreign tourists. At least two linked to the blasts are free to go following the sentence cuts.
Past remissions of sentences for those convicted on terrorism charges have drawn fire from countries like Australia and the United States, where officials have argued the crimes are too serious to warrant mercy. (*)