Subject: AP/RT: First Timor rights case involves church massacre

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

First Indonesia Timor case involves church massacre

JAKARTA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Indonesian prosecutors submitted their first cases on 1999 human rights abuses in East Timor to a Jakarta rights tribunal on Thursday, linking seven suspects including a general to a bloody church massacre.

Indonesia has been under heavy pressure from foreign donors and human rights groups to try those responsible for a scorched-earth campaign in East Timor before and after the tiny territory voted in August 1999 to break away from Jakarta rule.

Prosecutors handed over to the tribunal three files involving seven suspects who allegedly played roles in a September 1999 massacre in the East Timor town of Suai where scores of East Timorese refugees and priests were killed in a church complex.

"(The articles) they broke were serious human rights violations including genocide and crimes against humanity. The heaviest punishment is death," said Barman Zahir, spokesman for the attorney-general's office.

"The lightest punishment is 10 years in jail for accountability of a commander" whose subordinate committed an abuse, he told reporters.

Then East Timor police chief Brigadier General Timbul Silaen was among the first batch of suspects, which included four other Indonesian security officers and two former East Timor bureaucrats.

The list did not include anyone from the pro-Jakarta Lauksar militia gang which went on rampage around Suai after failing to sway the vote to keeping Indonesian rule in the area.

Zahir said prosecutors would file cases in stages.

Since September 2000 prosecutors have named 19 suspects including three generals and militia leader Eurico Guterres for abuses ranging from genocide to torture.

But they have had to wait for 16 months before they could submit their cases as a court to prosecute the rights abuses was only established late last month.

Diplomats have said a whitewash in the trials could prompt some key nations to review their relationship with Jakarta and trigger calls for reductions in vital aid, although some have played down suggestions funding might actually be cut.

The United States has linked a return to full military cooperation with Jakarta to clarity on the violence in East Timor. The United States slashed military ties after the incidents.

East Timor, a former Portuguese territory, has been under U.N. management since 1999 following the end of Jakarta's often brutal 27-year occupation of the impoverished territory. East Timor will declare its formal independence on May 20, 2002.

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Indonesia Charges 7 Officials

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia has charged seven senior officials with genocide in connection with East Timor violence in 1999 that left hundreds of people dead, officials said Thursday.

The charges by Indonesia's attorney general's office following U.N. allegations that Indonesia's security forces orchestrating the bloodshed after the territory voted in favor of independence from Indonesia on Aug. 30, 1999.

That vote sparked a three-week retaliatory rampage by pro-Indonesian forces that left more than 250 people dead and destroyed 80 percent of the territory's buildings. The violence ended when international peacekeepers arrived.

Among those charged with crimes against humanity including genocide were former East Timor Governor Abilio Soares, East Timor police chief Brig. Gen Timbul Silaen, and Col. Herman Sedyono, a former district head, said Barman Zahir, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. Four lower-ranking military and police officers were also charged. All are among 18 suspects indicted last year for the violence.

The highest-ranking suspect, former regional military chief Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, has not yet been formally charged, Zahir said. Under Indonesian law, genocide and crimes against humanity are punishable by death.

Indonesia has been under heavy pressure from the international community and human rights groups to place on trial those responsible for bloodshed in East Timor.

It is still unclear when the trial of the 18 men will begin. Judges for the special human rights tribunal were appointed last month by President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

A total of 99 other suspects have been indicted by U.N. prosecutors in East Timor. Indonesia has refused to hand over dozens of suspects saying it has no extradition treaty with the world body's government in East Timor.


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