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RT: 16 prisoners released

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 08:02:47 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Indonesia frees 16 political detainees Jun 10, 1998

JAKARTA (Reuters) - President B.J. Habibie has given amnesty or dropped charges against 16 political prisoners, mostly East Timorese indicted for anti-government activity, Justice Minister Muladi said Wednesday.

``By granting the amnesty, all the criminal actions against the eight people will be scrapped,'' Muladi, quoting a presidential decree, told reporters.

The decree dated June 9 was to take immediate effect.

Muladi said the government dropped criminal charges against eight others, adding that 15 of the 16 were in Dili, capital of East Timor, and one in Malang, East Java.

Muladi gave no further details.

Since taking power last month Habibie has freed or dropped charges against seven Indonesian political prisoners.

Those given the amnesty were Cancio Antoni, Bendito Amaral, Thomas Agusto Coreia, Hermenegildo Da Costa, Coky Yahya Runasia Tanel Guntur Aritonang, Jose Gomes, Antonio Gusmao Freitas and Luis Pereira.

Criminal charges were dropped against Juvinal Dos Santos Monis, Domingos Da Silva, Vicente Marques Da Crus, Silverio Bapista Ximenes, Bernadino Simao, Paulo Silva Carvalho, Fransisco de Deus and Paulo Soares.

Indonesia still faces armed resistance in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony it invaded in 1975 and annexed the following year.

The United Nations does not recognize Indonesia's rule there.

Habibie said on Tuesday he was prepared to release all East Timorese political prisoners but Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said jailed East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao would stay behind bars until a final settlement of the East Timor question.

The London-based Amnesty International said last week Indonesia held at least 47 Indonesians and East Timorese detained for their ``peaceful opposition'' to the Suharto government.

It said 170 people had been imprisoned for alleged involvement in violent political activities.

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