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Early prison release of Indonesia ex-dictator's son prompts criticism

[JURIST] The early release of Tommy Suharto [BBC profile] from prison Monday by court order under the Indonesian government's holiday remission program has prompted criticism that the Indonesian justice system continues to be easily manipulated by those with money and power. Suharto, whose full name is Hutomo Mandala Putra, is the son of former President Haji Mohammad Suharto [CNN profile] who has himself been the subject of a corruption investigation [JURIST report]. Tommy Suharto was serving a 10-year sentence for hiring a hitman to kill a judge [BBC report] who had found him guilty in an earlier corruption case. He was released from prison [BBC report] Monday after serving only five years due to Indonesia's tradition of reducing sentences on certain national holidays [JURIST report] to reward an inmate's good behavior. His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal, but his initial 15-year sentence was criticized in some quarters as too lenient.

Indonesian courts are inconsistent in reducing sentences and ordering early prison releases and Indonesia's justice minister has indicated that public opinion could factor into the decisions. Many in Indonesia have called for the judiciary to explain to the public how the decision to release Tommy Suharto was reached. Reuters has more. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.

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