Subject: SMH: Australian envoy lashes Wiranto over Timor

Also: Wiranto outraged by Timor allegation

Sydney Morning Herald Monday, November 20, 2000

Australian envoy lashes Wiranto over Timor

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

Australia's senior diplomat in Jakarta, Mr John McCarthy, has accused Indonesia's former military chief, General Wiranto, of having "broad knowledge" of the violence and destruction in East Timor last year.

In the most direct claim by Australia that Indonesian military leaders were complicit in the bloodshed, Mr McCarthy said General Wiranto knew of terror tactics, including plans to intimidate and injure Australians and other foreigners.

In an interview with the Herald , Mr McCarthy dismissed General Wiranto's claim that he was unaware of the campaign aimed at blocking independence and intimidating foreign observers.

He said there was international expectation that General Wiranto should be punished. So far only 33 soldiers and militia members, all based in in East Timor, have been investigated by Indonesian authorities.

Until now Australian ministers and officials have avoided blaming General Wiranto directly for the violence, saying publicly that they believed "rogue" elements of the military were responsible.

Mr McCarthy said he also believed that Indonesia came close to breaking off diplomatic relations with Canberra when Australian troops led an international force into East Timor to stop the violence.

If large numbers of militia, or Indonesian soldiers, had been shot by the arriving United Nations forces, relations would have turned "very sour indeed".

Mr McCarthy's naming of General Wiranto coincides with comments by Mr James Dunn, the UN-appointed "special rapporteur" on war crimes in East Timor, that he has uncovered new evidence that senior Indonesian military officials "actively directed and organised" the political violence .

The Jakarta Government, wanting to head off an international war crimes tribunal, is preparing to put on trial in January 22 suspects, including senior military and police commanders who served in East Timor.

Mr McCarthy's comments will increase the pressure on Indonesian authorities to also charge General Wiranto, whom they have so far failed to name as a suspect, but they will also anger anti-Australian elements in Jakarta.

These elements often accuse Australia of interfering in Indonesia's internal affairs. They also oppose any trip by President Abdurrahman Wahid to Australia to help repair relations that collapsed over East Timor.

Mr McCarthy said that the Indonesian military was not a "totally incompetent" organisation. "I do not believe that the sort of activity that was taking place in East Timor in the lead-up to the ballot could have taken place without the broad knowledge of the senior commanders in that organisation.

"They might not have known the details or were being kept up to date on everything that was being done," he said.

Mr McCarthy was the highest-ranking foreign diplomat to remain in East Timor as pro-Jakarta militia, soldiers and police rampaged through the territory.

Asked whether it was just good luck that no Australians were killed in East Timor at the height of the violence, he said: "What Timor showed was a very carefully calculated exercise ... intimidating the foreigners and driving them out straight after the ballot.

"I think it was lucky ... they were trying to frighten people, injure people without killing them, so in that sense we were lucky that a mistake wasn't made."

Story Picture: General Wiranto: 'There is more and more circumstantial evidence that he was very knowledgeable [about events in East Timor after it voted for independence],' according to Australia's Ambassador.


Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, November 21, 2000 
Wiranto outraged by Timor allegation

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta and AAP

Former military chief General Wiranto yesterday called on the Indonesian Government to take stern action against Australia over an accusation that he had "broad knowledge" of last year's violence in East Timor.

In a Herald interview yesterday, Australia's outgoing ambassador in Jakarta, Mr John McCarthy, dismissed General Wiranto's claim that he had been unaware of the campaign to prevent independence in the former Indonesian territory, saying there was increasing circumstantial evidence of his knowledge. Speaking from the Sulawesi city of Makassar, where he was promoting his album of nationalistic songs, General Wiranto said he had not yet read Mr McCarthy's comments, but would do so and seek clarification.

"Our Government must do something to deal with these totally groundless accusations," he told local journalists. "Why should we as a big nation always be interfered with by foreigners? We have dignity and ways to solve all of these problems."

Indonesia's top military spokesman warned Australian officials that accusing the former military chief of knowing about the violence in East Timor was not conducive to healing relations with Indonesia.

Air Vice Marshal Graito Usodo told AAP: "If important people from Australia say things like that, it won't be conducive for bilateral relations, which we now try to improve.

"TNI [Indonesia's armed forces] respect and believe in the process of the court in Indonesia, and the process is going on.

"TNI has sent high-ranking officers to the Attorney General's investigators," he added, in reference to regional commander Adam Damiri, who has been named as a suspect in the Government's investigation.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Mr Sulaiman Abdulmanan refused to comment other than saying: "It's very sensitive, I don't want to disturb the bilateral relationship".

He noted that plans for the much delayed visit by President Abdurrahman Wahid to Canberra were under way.

AP reports: Indonesia's Attorney-General, Marzuki Darusman, said yesterday prosecutors may interrogate General Wiranto about the whereabouts of former president Soeharto's fugitive son.

Prosecutors have begun grilling Soeharto's family members about where Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra - who has been convicted of corruption and sentenced to 18 months in jail - may be hiding.

Mr Darusman said prosecutors may question General Wiranto and former vice president Sudharmono.


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