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Indonesia rejects foreign treatment for labour bos

Reuters - July 21, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia on Monday said it had rejected overseas medical treatment for an ailing independent labour leader on trial for subversion.

Mucthar Pakpahan, head of the unrecognised Indonesian Labour Welfare Union (SBSI), has been in a private Jakarta hospital since March when his subversion trial was postponed indefinitely after he complained of suffering vertigo.

He has since had conflicting diagnoses that he is suffering from either cancer or tuberculosis in his right lung.

The U.S. government and European unionists have offered to pay for Pakpahan, serving a four-year sentence for inciting riots in 1994, to be treated overseas.

"According to the procedures, a second opinion was asked for from the Department of Health which formed a team of doctors. The results said the illness from which he was suffering was not fatal and could be treated here (in Jakarta)," Indonesian Attorney-General Singgih was quoted by the official Antara news agency as saying.

"He could even attend court," he added.

Singgih quoted the team of doctors from the Cipto Manungkusumo general hospital as saying Pakpahan had long suffered an infection in his right lung which could have been caused by TB, bacteria or fungus.

He said they concluded he could attend his subversion trial to finish the case as long as he was accompanied by a doctor.

"We do not want this case to be in arrears," he said.

Pakpahan was jailed in 1994 on charges that he incited racial rioting in the north Sumatran city of Medan in April that year after a series of strikes in nearby factories even though he was not in the city at the time of the disturbances.

He was freed on appeal and his conviction quashed by the Supreme Court. The conviction was reinstated in a highly unusual decision last year after his arrest on the subversion charge in the wake of riots in Jakarta last July.

Evidence in court has subsequently not linked him to the riots in which at least five people died.

Singgih also said he had ordered the junior attorney-general for special cases, Ismudjoko, to finish preparations for the subversion trial of former legislator Si Bintang Pamungkas by next August.