Subject: SMH: Jakarta Agrees to Extradite Suspects to E. Timor

Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, April 8, 2000

Jakarta agrees to extradite suspects

By LINDSAY MURDOCH in Jakarta

Indonesia has opened the way for some of its top military officers and the leaders of pro-Jakarta militia groups responsible for last year's violence in East Timor to be put on trial in the United Nations-controlled territory.

Jakarta surprised UN officials by signing a landmark agreement on Thursday that will allow the extradition to East Timor of Indonesians accused of committing crimes there.

This will provoke further resentment towards President Abdurrahman Wahid from hardline military officers, including the former armed forces chief, General Wiranto.

In a cable to the UN in New York, the head of the UN operation in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira De Mello, said the agreement "exceeds everything we had realistically hoped to obtain" in negotiations with Indonesia.

Analysts in Jakarta described the Memorandum of Understanding on Legal, Judicial and Human Rights as a courageous move by Mr Wahid in his battle for supremacy over the military, which has dominated Indonesia for three decades.

One of the UN's negotiators, Mr Peter Galbraith, told reporters in the East Timor capital, Dili, yesterday that Indonesia's Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman, made clear in talks with UN officials he was determined that some trials involving Indonesians responsible for the East Timor violence be held in the territory.

The agreement will also allow East Timorese witnesses to be taken under protection to testify with immunity from prosecution against Indonesians facing criminal charges in Indonesian courts.

Mr Darusman's office is investigating allegations against 33 people, including General Wiranto, implicated in the East Timor violence by Indonesian human rights commission investigators.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, described the accord as an "important step".

Under the agreement, East Timor and Indonesia undertake to extradite any of their citizens for a criminal offence publishable by a prison term of two years or more as well as "crimes against humanity."


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