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Ex-Indonesian leader Suharto's family ordered to pay back millions

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Indonesia's Supreme Court has ordered the family of ex-president Suharto to pay back millions in embezzled funds to the state, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

[JAKARTA] Indonesia's Supreme Court has ordered the family of ex-president Suharto to pay back millions in embezzled funds to the state, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Suharto, who after 32 years of iron-fisted rule was brought down by widespread protests in 1998, was accused of massive corruption and nepotism benefiting his family and cronies.

The Supreme Court ruling marks the first time the family has been held accountable in any significant way for Suharto's alleged wrongdoing.

Family members were not immediately available for comment but have denied wrongdoing. "The losing side will be given several days and if they do not pay voluntarily, then legal steps will be taken accordingly," Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi told reporters without elaborating.

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The family of the so-called "smiling general" lost its appeal against a previous ruling and has been ordered to pay back US$324 million in state funds misappropriated during Suharto's rule.

Indonesia's highest court delivered the verdict last month in a civil lawsuit filed by the attorney general that claimed Suharto's family had used a foundation to amass personal wealth by siphoning off state funds intended for education.

The ruling, which orders them to pay back 75 per cent of the amount embezzled, was only made public this week.

The Suharto family remains politically active - Suharto's daughter is a member of parliament - but its influence has diminished significantly during Indonesia's transition to full democracy.

REUTERS

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