[JURIST] Indonesian prosecutors began court proceedings Monday against former Indonesian President Haji Mohammad Suharto [CNN profile], bringing the government's civil corruption lawsuit [JURIST report] against Suharto for allegedly embezzling $440 million between 1974 and 1998 from the Yayasan Supersemar [official website], a state-funded academic scholarship fund. The court proceedings began after prosecutors for the government failed [JURIST report] to reach a settlement earlier this month. Indonesian law requires that parties try mediation to resolve civil disputes before courts may proceed with a case. Suharto's lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon has said that the negotiations failed because government prosecutors insisted on terms identical with their suit.
The civil suit is the latest effort by the Indonesian government to hold Suharto accountable for his 32-year reign, which ended in 1998 after public discontent amid the Asian financial crisis erupted into violent protests. Government lawyers are seeking to recover the $440 million in state funds, and an additional $1.1 billion in damages. In January, Indonesian Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh announced plans to bring the civil action against Suharto after dropping criminal charges of corruption because Suharto has been rendered unable to speak or write [JURIST reports] as a result of several strokes. ABC News has more.