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Looking like anything but a man convicted of masterminding a murder, Tommy Suharto took to the badminton court yesterday, showing few signs of the ill health that forced him to skip his prison sentencing hearing last week.

Reporters accompanying MPs to Jakarta's Cipinang jail found former president Suharto's favourite son grinning as he hit a shuttlecock around with other inmates in the infamous prison.

"I'm trying to work up a sweat here," said Hutomo Mandala Putra, commonly known as Tommy Suharto, wearing a beige polo shirt and grey shorts that reached down over his knees.

Asked how he felt about the 15-year verdict delivered last Friday by the Central Jakarta District Court, Tommy Suharto, fighting for breath, said: "Disappointed, of course."

He did not say if he would appeal as he spoke briefly during a rare tour of the jail.

Reporters were allowed to accompany MPs into the jail. The legislators said they wanted to check media reports that Tommy Suharto was receiving special privileges in a prison his father often used to lock up his political opponents.

After inspecting Tommy Suharto's carpeted jail cell, complete with 21-inch television, crisp bed linen and flush toilet, some MPs said they were unhappy at what they regarded as excessively good treatment for the 40-year-old former playboy and stock car racer.

Indonesia's legal system has often been criticized as corrupt and favouring the rich, and President Megawati Sukarnoputri has pledged reform.

Tommy Suharto's case is viewed as a test of that promise.

He was sentenced in absentia for masterminding the murder of a Supreme Court judge who convicted him of graft two years ago.

The jail sentence included weapons offences and Tommy Suharto's yearlong flight from the graft conviction.

His cell has an entrance hall, an area for his bed and a separate bathroom. The cell, seven metres by 2.5 metres, was spotless, and overlooked a shaded yard with a small fishpond.

Most cells in Cipinang are dirty and overcrowded, although the VIP wing where Tommy Suharto is locked up has traditionally offered better facilities for former convicted officials and businessmen.

On a small box near his bed sat a framed black-and-white photo of him as a boy with his father, who stepped down in 1998 amid social chaos after 32 years in power. Nearby was a television and a mattress with crisp white sheets.

The bathroom was far from the hole-in-the-ground and the scoop and bucket for bathing that other cells have.

It boasted ceramic floor tiles and a sitting toilet, along with a shower nozzle.

"That's an expensive toilet. I don't think I could afford to buy such a brand," MP Jacob Sahetapy told reporters.

"This may not be a plot, but was allowed because people here were reluctant [to halt it]because he was a son of a president. This is not good. We will ask the Justice Minister about this," said Mr. Sahetapy, who also heads the National Law Commission.

Earlier, Tommy Suharto's lawyers said they had yet to decide on whether to appeal to the Jakarta High Court.

"There will be some strategic steps that we will take but we can't reveal it yet," lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon said.

They have one week in which to lodge an appeal.

The sentence given Tommy Suharto exactly matched that sought by prosecutors, but has triggered criticism since the murder charge alone carried a maximum penalty of death. The two men who killed the judge were sentenced last May to life in prison.

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