Subject: JP: UN clipped out power in E. Timor: Witnesses

The Jakarta Post June 20, 2002

UN clipped out power in E. Timor: Witnesses

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Two former top security officers in charge of East Timor testified at the ad hoc East Timor human rights trial on Wednesday, insisting that the task of creating peace and order before, during and after the 1999 independence ballot was simply out of their hands.

Former Udayana military commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri and former East Timor police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Selaen told the court that they were under the control of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

"There were not enough military and police personnel on the ground to calm heightened tensions between conflicting community groups... We were undertaking mission impossible," Adam said.

He was testifying during the trial of former Covalima regent Col. Herman Sedyono, former Suai military commander Col. Sugito, Sugito's predecessor Lt. Col. Liliek Koeshadianto, former Suai military command chief of staff Capt. Achmad Syamsudin, and former Suai Police chief Lt. Col. Gatot Subiakto.

They are charged with neglecting their duty and failing to prevent pro-Jakarta militia members from attacking pro-independence supporters taking refuge in Suai's St. Ave Maria Church on Sept. 6, 1999, two days after the result of the ballot was announced.

The attack claimed 27 lives, including three Catholic priests.

Adam said security authorities had provided shelter for refugees, while the shelters in churches "were created only to attract international attention in order to get donations. The refugees were still doing their daily jobs."

Although UNAMET was not entrusted with security matters in Indonesia's former 27th province, there was virtually not a single security measure the military and police could carry out without consulting UNAMET.

"It was UNAMET who made Jakarta replace Suai military commander Lt. Col. Achmad Mas Agus for no clear reason, so I appointed Liliek to fill the post. UNAMET also prohibited the military from patrolling," he said.

Timbul Silaen meanwhile said that 6,000 police personnel were not enough to secure the 13 districts of East Timor.

"UNAMET rejected our request to put the military under our command since there was no time to wait for additional force from other regions to stop the rampant clashes following the accelerated announcement of the ballot result," he said.

Both Adam and Timbul are among the 18 suspects charged with offenses relating to the East Timor violence.

Presiding Judge Cicut Sutiarso adjourned the hearing until June 25 to hear more witnesses.

Earlier in the day, Judge Cicut opened the first hearing on the attack of Liquica Church on April 6, 1999, which killed 22 proindependence civilians taking refuge in Catholic Priest Rafael Dos Santos's residence inside the church compound.

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