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Suharto family owns 204,983 hectares

Agence France Presse - December 29, 1998

Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Suharto, his relatives and associates own almost nine million hectares (22.2 million acres) of forest land, and the family owns 204,983 hectares of prime real estate across the country, press reports said Tuesday.

But only 18 hectares was registered under the names of individual family members, Minister of Land Affairs Hasan Basri Durin was quoted by the Indonesian Observer as saying Monday.

Durin told a press conference that another 204,901 hectares of real estate was registered under the names of companies in which relatives held an 80 percent stake or acted as commissioners or directors. Land under the family name was located in seven provinces, while those under companies's names were spread throughout 14 provinces.

Durin said the data could change because the search for land titles was continuing, and the family could give up the ownership. However, all the land owned by the Suharto clan was acquired legally according to Durin. "From the legal point of view, the land was purchased through correct procedure, but the problem is, it violates people's sense of justice," he said.

Durin's office began compiling the data on Suharto landholdings shortly after he fell from power in May of this year amid an outburst of criticism that the Suharto clan and their big business associates had frequently used the military to expel farmers from the land they wanted. But Durin declined comment on the charges.

The minister said the data will be sent to the attorney general's office, which is conducting an investigation into the wealth of the former president.

Criticism by students and reformists of the slow pace of the attorney general's probe was seen as instrumental earlier this month in President B.J. Habibie ordering "legal steps" against his predecessor and former mentor.

The order came after former ambassador to the United States, retired general Hasnan Habib accused attorney general Andi Ghalib, a general, of "being afraid" to push the probe. Suharto presented himself at the attorney general's office on December 9, and emerged saying only that he was ready to cooperate if called again.