Subject: JP: Chief Justice Bagir delays ad hoc tribunal against rights violators

The Jakarta Post December 1, 2001

Bagir delays ad hoc tribunal against rights violators

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite pressure to bring to justice high-ranking officials suspected of involvement in a number of human rights violation cases, Chief Justice Bagir Manan said on Friday that the ad hoc human rights tribunal would be delayed until early next year due to the long holidays.

"It is something that we had failed to foresee, that there would be such a long holiday in December -- Idul Fitri, Christmas, and the New Year.

"Many people, including court officials, will be on leave during the holiday season, so we decided to start the trial next year," Bagir told reporters at his office.

When asked whether the long-awaited ad hoc tribunal would start in January 2002, Bagir said: "God willing, we hope to try these cases as soon as possible."

Justice Benyamin Mangkoedilaga, head of the team in charge of screening the judges for both the ad hoc and permanent tribunals, had previously given assurances that the ad hoc tribunal would start sitting in December after being delayed several times.

The ad hoc tribunal is being set up to try people suspected of being involved in human rights violations in the 1984 bloodshed at Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, and the 1999 post-ballot violence in East Timor.

The permanent tribunal is set to try rights abuses committed after November 2000.

To ensure impartiality, the Supreme Court has said there would be no police or military officers appointed as judges.

The Attorney General's Office has thus far declared three high-ranking military officers as suspects in the East Timor mayhem. They are former Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri and former Wiradharma Military Resort commanders Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman and Brig. Gen. A. Nur Muis.

Meanwhile, the senior Army officers who have reportedly been named as suspects in the Tanjung Priok incident are former Armed Forces chief Gen. (ret) Benny Moerdani and former vice president Try Sutrisno.

Bagir further said he had handed over 30 names to be appointed as ad hoc judges to President Megawati Soekarnoputri for approval.

"Soon after the President issues the decree appointing these 30 as ad hoc judges, we can proceed with the trials," Bagir said. 

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