Subject: FT: Jakarta Urged To Step Up FT Journalist's Murder Probe

Financial Times December 10 2000

Jakarta urged to step up FT journalist's murder probe

By Dan Bilefsky in Brussels

Members of the European parliament are calling on the Indonesian government to step up its investigation into the murder of Sander Thoenes, the Financial Times journalist killed last year in East Timor, amid growing concerns that it is proceeding too slowly.

Concerns that the Indonesian government is dragging its feet over the investigation intensified recently after it emerged that senior military officials thought to be behind the murder were omitted from a provisional list of 19 suspects issued by government inspectors.

Mr Thoenes, a Dutch citizen, was murdered in September 1999 at the end of a campaign of army-backed violence in East Timor that led to the killing of more than 1,000 people and the destruction of most of the buildings in the territory.

Lousewies van der Lann, a Dutch Liberal MEP, has urged the European Union to make its economic support of the new Jakarta government contingent on its handling of human rights violations in an amendment to a report by the European parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"If rogue elements in the army think they can get away with the murder of a western journalist, then they will think they can get away with the murder of anyone. Sometimes you need to put a face on injustice to benefit everyone," she said.

Western diplomats familiar with Mr Thoenes's murder case said an investigation conducted in conjunction with the United Nations, the Indonesian government and Dutch police officials, had uncovered suspects and witnesses related to the killing.

However, the Indonesian government had thus far failed to act on the new evidence. MEPs recently adopted a report by the foreign affairs committee that calls on the EU to strengthen its support for democratic forces in the country.

The report concludes that, while the government of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid is making efforts to improve human rights legislation, the military retains an unhealthy influence, poverty remains endemic and the transition to good governance is progressing too slowly.

Ms van der Lann's amendment, which will be voted on Wednesday by MEPs, is expected to receive broad support from a majority of political parties. If passed, it would be added to the foreign affairs committee report and passed on to the European Commission for review.

Sander Thoenes, 30, was shot by gunmen while riding on the back of a motorcycle taxi in the suburb of Becora on the outskirts of Dili, the East Timor capital. The six gunmen were wearing Indonesian military uniforms.


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