Condition of Indonesia's Suharto improves

The condition of former Indonesian dictator Suharto was slightly improved Monday, although he still had some intestinal bleeding and was receiving a blood transfusion to increase oxygen levels to his organs, doctors said.

Suharto, 84, was hospitalized May 4 and underwent surgery to stop bleeding of the colon.

Suharto was Indonesia's supreme leader for 32 years until he was toppled from power by a massive public uprising in 1998. He has since suffered a number of strokes and intestinal problems.

He was indicted in 2000 on charges of embezzling US$600 million ( Ђ 470 million) in state funds, but his lawyers have successfully kept him out of court, citing his poor health. Last week, the attorney general said proceedings against him had been abandoned, angering critics who blame him for hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Pertamina Hospital Director Dr. Adji Suprajitno said Monday the functioning of Suharto's kidneys and intestines had improved and that he was receiving physiotherapy.

"Suharto's condition, in general, is getting better, but some bleeding remains," he told reporters in south Jakarta. The former president was being given a blood transfusion because of the bleeding, he said.

Dr. Joko Raharjo, another member of Suharto's 20-strong medical team, said he was "more alert, he can answer questions and his communication ability is getting better."

But Suharto's lead doctor, Dr. Mardjo Subiandono, warned he "has not passed the critical period" after his surgery, reports the AP.

I.L.