Time didn't libel Suharto, Indonesia court rules

Article said he amassed $15 billion while leader


JAKARTA, Indonesia - Dealing another blow to Indonesia's embattled former leader, Suharto, a Jakarta court ruled yesterday that Time magazine did not libel him in an article that claimed Suharto and his family amassed a $15 billion fortune during his three decades in power.

"According to the evidence, it is clear that the article was not fabricated, but was based on facts," said the ruling by a three-judge panel. The judges also said they respected the magazine's refusal to reveal its confidential sources.

One Suharto lawyer, Denny Kailimang, noted that the ruling did not validate the assertions in the article. He said it merely upheld the magazine's argument during the trial that it reported information that had previously appeared in other publications, including Barron's.

Still even Kailimang said he was struck by the sight of an Indonesian court siding with a foreign publication against the man who once dominated this country. "This is something totally new for Indonesia," he said.

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