Subject: Wiranto May Escape Punishment For E Timor - Attorney Genl

Associated Press, April 5, 2000

Wiranto May Escape Punishment For E Timor - Attorney Genl

JAKARTA (AP)--Though he was implicated as ultimately responsible for the violence in East Timor last year, former military chief Gen. Wiranto may escape punishment on a legal technicality, a senior official said Wednesday.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said that Wiranto cannot be charged with omission of duties. Wiranto, like many Indonesians, uses only one name.

"Under existing law, omission does not carry any penalty," he said. "He will not be able to be tried in court...if he is not found to be guilty of complicity."

A government human rights investigation and a U.N. inquiry found that as military commander Wiranto bore ultimate responsibility for atrocities committed by Indonesian forces in East Timor after its people voted to secede in a U.N.-sponsored plebiscite. But the probes did not uncover any evidence that Wiranto was personally involved in organizing the violence.

More than 250 bodies have been recovered and experts have estimated that 70% of the homes and buildings in the tiny territory were destroyed in the rampage by pro-Indonesia militias.

At the time of the vote, Indonesia's armed forces were tasked with maintaining security in the territory.

President Abdurrahman Wahid, who assumed office in October after a multinational force restored order in East Timor, has promised that Wiranto will face the courts but has said that he might be pardoned if found guilty.

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