updated 1/20/2008 10:47:32 AM ET 2008-01-20T15:47:32

Former Indonesian dictator Suharto moved his hands and spoke in a whisper Sunday, in what doctors called amazing signs of recovery so soon after he suffered multiple organ failure.

Suharto, 86, was admitted to the Pertamina Hospital in the capital, Jakarta, on Jan. 4 with severe kidney, lung and heart trouble. He received a blood transfusion and was put on a dialysis machine.

His condition deteriorated rapidly a week ago and he developed a potentially fatal blood infection, or sepsis, and pneumonia and his heart briefly stopped. Preparations had begun for a state funeral.

On Sunday, Suharto was still in intensive care but was ready for early stages of physiotherapy, said Dr. Jusuf Misbach.

"He is fully conscious, he can follow instructions and answer our questions in a weak voice, he said. "He scratched himself and raised his hands. It's an amazing accomplishment."

Doctors said they were also successfully fighting his infection with antibiotics and that his lungs and heart had shown improvement.

Suharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years until being toppled in May 1998 during massive pro-democracy street protests.

Between 300,000 and 800,000 alleged communist sympathizers were killed during Suharto's bloody rise to power from 1965 to 1968, a spasm of violence led by the Indonesian army and conservative Muslim groups.

His troops killed another 300,000 in military operations against independence movements in Papua, Aceh and East Timor, while hundreds of thousands of others were jailed without trial or disappeared.

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