Attempting to depart the prison on Monday, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra’s private van was stopped by a group of about 60 Indonesian reporters blocking its way and demanding that he speak to them.
The reporters had been waiting since early morning for his release from the maximum-security Cipinang prison, where he has served a third of an original 15-year term for ordering the murder of a judge.
After several minutes during which scuffles broke out, the van reversed and Tommy and his escorts jumped out, ran to the prison building and were taken away by a second car.
The convict is set to be formally freed after completing several legal formalities on Monday and will remain under parole for a year, prison officials said.
The Supreme Court judge, who was shot dead by assailants on a motorcycle, had convicted Tommy on corruption and weapons offences.
The same court later reduced his sentence to 10 years without explanation. Since then, he has received numerous sentence remissions – which Indonesia usually hands out twice a year to well-behaved prisoners – totalling more than 31 months.
Under Indonesian law, prisoners showing good conduct who serve more than two-thirds of their sentence once the remissions are taken into account become eligible for parole.
The eight months Tommy was held in jail prior to his conviction have been considered as time served.
The release of Tommy, seen as a former playboy, is likely to be seen by activists as proof that favours are still being handed to the Suharto family, even eight years after Suharto was forced to step down.