Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Suharto health takes turn for worse

Suharto health takes turn for worse

Jakarta (dpa) - The health of Indonesia's ailing former president Suharto deteriorated Tuesday with more liquid building up in his lungs and blood found in his urine, doctors said.

"The condition of Bapak [Father] Suharto is showing drops again this morning," Dr Mardjo Soebiandono, the head of Suharto's team of doctors, said at a press conference.

"More liquids infiltrated his lungs while some blood also was seen in his urine, which prompted his haemoglobin level to decline despite blood transfusions given," Soebiandono said.

He added that to improve Suharto's levels of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood, intensive care, blood transfusions and better nutrients were needed.

Because of Suharto's declining condition, more restrictions were placed on visitors wishing to pay their respects to the former strongman, who ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years before student-led pro-democracy protests forced him to step down in 1998.

The 86-year-old former dictator was admitted to Pertamina Hospital Friday with swollen intestines, a low heart rate and anaemia. On Sunday, his condition deteriorated, prompting dozens of specialists to be called in.

Suharto's latest medical checks also showed a dissynchronization in the movements of his heart caused by inactivity in one segment of the heart, Soebiandono said.

The team's heart specialist said earlier that the pacemaker implanted in Suharto in 2001 would be replaced by a newer, more sophisticated model.

The former army general has been admitted to hospital numerous times since he stepped down, receiving treatment for intestinal bleeding and strokes, which doctors said left him brain-damaged and unable to speak coherently.

A number of top government officials, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, have visited Suharto. Yudhoyono said the government would give Suharto the finest medical attention available.

Suharto, who rarely appears in public and has lived in seclusion in Jakarta's Menteng neighbourhood since he left office, has been charged with corruption and also faces numerous allegations of human rights abuses during his rule.

With the continued deterioration of Suharto's health, his attorneys and political supporters called for legal proceedings against him to be dropped.

However, former president Abdurrahman Wahid, a pro-democracy activist when Suharto was in power, and anti-corruption campaigners insisted the legal process against Suharto should continue.

In May 2006, prosecutors closed a criminal case against Suharto, citing his deteriorating health, but Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said Monday that he would go ahead with a civil case against the former president despite his poor health.

The government is currently seeking 1.4 billion dollars in damages and assets allegedly accrued through a charitable foundation Suharto chaired while in power.

In September, the United Nations and World Bank announced that Suharto headed their list of the world's worst swindlers of state assets along with the late Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Alberto Fujimori of Peru.

Quoting an estimate by Transparency International, a private anti-corruption group, both the United Nations and World Bank said Suharto stole from 15 billion to 35 billion dollars in state assets while in power.

12:30 Jan 08, 2008

No comments: