DECEMBER 29, 2000
Suharto plays the Sundance Kid
TOMMY SUHARTO, the man who wanted to take Grand Prix racing to Indonesia, a few years ago, is leading the local police a dance at the moment. Suharto has been on the run since the start of November after refusing to surrender himself after a court sentenced him to 18 months in prison for corruption charges. Suharto, the son of the former president of Indonesia, is claimed to have been involved in hiding huge amounts of the country's money. Some claim that the Suharto Family took as much as $40bn during General Raden Suharto's 32-year period in power. The family deny the claims.
It has now emerged that Tommy Suharto has been apprehended by police on at least one occasion (and possibly twice) but has escaped. The former racing driver was reportedly stopped by police as a convoy in which he was driving was stopped as it headed from the island of East Java to Bali. A separate support suggests that Tommy was stopped by police in East Java and demanded to see President Abdurrahman Wahid, claiming that he information which incriminated the head of state. The police retreated to consult with the president and when they returned Suharto had disappeared.
Suharto, who used to own the Lamborghini car company, was formerly the president of the Indonesian national motor sport authority - known as Ikatan Motor Indonesia - and was the force behind the construction of the Sentul racing circuit which was cleared for F1 in the mid-1990s. Although the race was listed provisionally on the World Championship calendar, Bernie Ecclestone was wise enough to stay away.
Suharto was a regular visitor to Grands prix in that period, his last visit being to Melbourne in 1997, when he was a guest of Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows team.
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