Subject: Indonesia to ignore US court ruling against top general

also: [Independent] General ordered to pay out over Timor abuses 

Sydney Morning Herald October 6, 2001

Indonesia to ignore US court ruling against top general

Indonesia said yesterday it would ignore a United States court order that an Indonesian general pay $US66million ($132million) for human rights abuses committed in East Timor.

The Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayudha, said in Jakarta that the ruling against General Johny Lumintang was "more symbolism than substance" and the fine could not be imposed in Indonesia.

"A decision of this nature has been made before so we will just ignore it," Mr Wirayudha said.

Judge Alan Kay ruled in Washington this week that Lumintang "planned, ordered, and instigated acts carried out by subordinates to terrorise and displace the East Timor population" in 1999.

He ordered him to pay $US66million to six plaintiffs who had brought suit against him under the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act, which gives US courts jurisdiction over claims by citizens involving torture and extra-judicial killing occurring anywhere.

Lumintang was second in-command of the Indonesian Army in 1999 when soldiers, police and pro-Jakarta militias embarked on their post-referendum campaign of terror.

The court ruling will allow the seizing of any US bank accounts Lumintang has. John Miller of the US-based East Timor Action Network said: "This judgment sends a strong message that the Indonesian military, police and political leaders responsible for 1999's devastation of East Timor must be held accountable."

Mr Miller said Lumintang was served notice of the civil suit during a visit to the US in March last year. But he failed to appear in court and was not represented.

Indonesia has promised to establish a special court to hear charges of human rights abuses committed in East Timor in 1999.

But the Indonesian military's top officers at the time of the atrocities, including the armed forces chief, General Wiranto, have not been named among about 20 people who are expected to stand trial.

The United Nations has said it would consider establishing a war crimes tribunal to hear East Timor cases if Indonesia fails to punish the key people behind the violence.

Lindsay Murdoch

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The Independent [UK] October 5, 2001

General ordered to pay out over Timor abuses

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

An Indonesian general whose involvement in "gross human rights violations" in East Timor was first revealed by The Independent has been ordered by a court to pay damages of $66m.

Lt General Johny Lumintang was found guilty by a US federal court of systematic abuse during the 1999 UN-organised independence referendum in which at least 2,000 East Timorese were killed. He was ordered to pay punitive damages of $10m (£6.7m) to six plaintiffs, and lawyers are now investigating whether the general has assets in the US.

In his judgement, Judge Alan Kay wrote: "It has been established ... that Lumintang has responsibility for the actions against plaintiffs and a larger pattern of gross human rights violations.

"[He] -- along with other high-ranking members of the Indonesian military -- planned, ordered, and instigated acts carried out by subordinates to terrorise and displace the East Timorese population ... and to destroy East Timor's infrastructure following the vote for independence." The ruling said the general was "both directly and indirectly responsible for human rights violations".

The action was brought by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) who served Mr Lumintang with the writ when he appeared in Washington last year to give a speech to the US-Indonesian society. In 1999, Lumintang, as vice chief of staff, was second in command of the Indonesian army. He is currently serving as secretary general of the Ministry of Defence.

The ETAN spokesman, John Miller, said: "This sends a very strong message to past and future perpetrators of human rights abuses that they will be held accountable."

During the hearing, several plaintiffs travelled to the US to give evidence of torture and abuse at the hands of militia and Indonesian soldiers. One man told how his brother had been killed and his father injured in post-election attacks.

Much of the evidence that enabled the case to be brought was initially revealed by The Independent's Asia correspondent, Richard Lloyd Parry, who uncovered a document found by a local human rights group in the East Timor capital, Dili. It consisted of an order to implement "repressive/coercive measures" and a plan to "move to the rear/evacuate if [independence] is chosen".

A subsequent UN Commission of Inquiry and an Indonesian government investigation found that senior Indonesian officers orchestrated systematic human rights violations after the referendum, in which almost 80 per cent of Timorese voted for independence.

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