Subject: Former police chief blames superiors for East Timor debacle

The Jakarta Post April 25, 2002

Former police chief blames superiors for East Timor debacle

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A witness in the human rights trial into the East Timor mayhem said on Wednesday that top state officials in Jakarta should have been held accountable for the violence that ravaged the former Indonesian province in 1999.

Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen, who testified against former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares, looked emotional when he told the court he had done his best within his ability to stop the violence, which erupted following the independence ballot there on Aug. 30, 1999.

"Those accountable for security affairs at the national level are Feisal Tanjung and Wiranto. I was only a field officer who received orders from the National Police chief. Who was I to maintain security there?" Silaen said.

He was referring respectively to the then coordinating minister for security and political affairs and the Indonesian Military chief, who escaped prosecution in the case. Wiranto has testified to the court.

"Ultimately, it should be (former president) B.J. Habibie that should take responsibility, considering the fact that the decision to hold a referendum in East Timor was the government's," Silaen said.

Silaen, the only witness to appear on Wednesday, is being tried separately under the same charges as Abilio.

The two are charged under Article 9 of Law No. 26/2000 on rights tribunals, with the killing of civilians at separate locations in East Timor, including the Liquica incident on April 6, 1999, and attacks by pro-Jakarta militias on the residences of proindependence leaders, Manuel Viegas Carrascalao and Leandro Isaac on April 17, 1999.

Both Abilio and Silaen are also standing trial for crimes against humanity, which claimed 27 lives during the attack on St. Ave Maria Church in Suai and the raid on the residence of Dili Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo following the ballot.

Silaen said the violence in East Timor had been exaggerated when compared with other clashes that occurred in the country.

"The number of people who died in East Timor was far fewer than those in the sectarian conflicts in Ambon and Poso," Timbul said, referring to the prolonged clashes between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku and Central Sulawesi towns between 1999 and 2002.

Silaen also told the court that local administration in East Timor was in practice taken over by the UN after the tripartite meeting in New York between the UN and the Indonesian and Portuguese governments on May, 5, 1999. That meeting decided how the self-determination ballot in the province would be run.

Presiding Judge Emmy Marni Mustafa adjourned the trial to May 1, to hear other witnesses.


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