Subject: Rights body alleges AGO-TNI 'deals' in E. Timor cases

The Jakarta Post March 26, 2002

Rights body alleges AGO-TNI 'deals' in E. Timor cases

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The landmark human rights trial for atrocities in East Timor more than two years ago has commenced, but disappointment persists as the Attorney General's Office fails to prosecute the top leaders implicated by the commission of inquiry into the crimes against humanity.

Secretary general of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Asmara Nababan said the Attorney General's Office was tarnishing any sense of justice here in the human rights violations cases for its continued failure to heed the inquiry's recommendations that former Indonesia Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and several other top officers in power when the crimes against humanity took place be indicted.

"Failure to further investigate the role of the military's top brass in the high profile cases will tarnish the image of Attorney General's Office before the public," he said.

Mandated by Komnas HAM to investigate the mayhem in East Timor after its independence vote in September 1999, the inquiry listed 30 military and civilians as persons held responsible for the violence. Wiranto was among those questioned, but excluded from the list.

There have been no exact figures of casualties, some sources say more than 1,000 dead, but at least 250,000 East Timorese were forced to flee the territory by military transport in September 1999. The massive logistical operation was expected by the military, according to former East Timor military commander Col. Noer Muis, one of the suspects in the case.

After its investigation led by then Deputy Attorney General for General Crimes M. Rachman, the Attorney General's Office announced last year 18 suspects in the case, with former Udayana Military commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, former East Timor governor Abilio Soares and former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen heading the roster.

The trials of Abilio, Timbul, four middle-ranking military officers and a police officer are underway, with the remaining suspects in the on deck circle as their dossiers await completion.

Asmara said Wiranto, former military intelligence body chief Maj. Gen. Zacky Makarim and former Army deputy chief Lt. Gen. Johny Lumintang should also stand trial for their alleged involvement in the gross human rights abuses.

TNI leaders have questioned the legitimacy of the ongoing human rights trial on grounds that a recent constitutional amendment rules out any trial of rights cases that took place before the human rights court was established.

The amendment of Article 28I of the constitution made in November 2000 protects anyone from being prosecuted retroactively under newly enacted laws.

Asmara said the processing of the dossiers for the exempted military officers, including the three generals, was a must.

"Should the state prosecutors fail to process the dossiers, the public will start to question whether there are some back-room deals going on between the suspects and the Attorney General's Office," he stated.

Asmara conceded that Komnas HAM had no intention of summoning the attorney general over his office's sluggish works, however.

"It is the public, including the House of Representatives (DPR), that should summon members of the Attorney General's Office, since this case is a public case. We want to avoid public perception that the case merely involves the Komnas HAM and the attorney general," he said.


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