Subject: AFP:: Lack of evidence against Wiranto on Timor charges: former AG

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse August 9, 2002

Lack of evidence against Wiranto on Timor charges: former AG


Indonesian prosecutors lacked evidence to lay charges against powerful former armed forces commander General Wiranto over the violence in East Timor, the country's former attorney general said.

The revelation Thursday night by Marzuki Darusman appears to contradict statements made in 1999 by then-president Abdurrahman Wahid, and Wiranto's lawyers, that Wiranto was suspended from the cabinet pending further investigation of his involvement in the violence that devastated East Timor that year.

"I didn't think there was any substantive evidence to start prosecution at that time but this agreement was conditional on any disclosures that might arise in a judicial proceeding," Darusman said at the launch of a new book about East Timor's separation from Indonesia.

Wahid suspended Wiranto -- effectively sacking him -- from his position as top security minister in February 2000 following a national human rights commission inquiry which found him responsible for failing to ensure security surrounding East Timor's referendum on independence.

The report recommended Wiranto be formally investigated.

"This is to allow the process of investigation to go on, to find out whether or not he is innocent," Wahid said at the time.

Darusman said Thursday that although prosecutors followed up the human rights commission's recommendation to investigate other suspects, a case against Wiranto "was not really opened in the first place."

He said Wahid consulted with the attorney general's office before making his separate decision to suspend Wiranto.

"It was entirely the president's decision to make that decision to request the resignation of Mr. Wiranto at the same time when we decided that prosecuting Mr. Wiranto would be ineffective because of the existing evidence," Darusman said.

But Darusman also indicated that Wiranto had contacted Wahid ahead of the decision to suspend him.

"Factually, there were some initial inquiries by Mr. Wiranto through the president that he wanted to be assured that that was the end of it, that no requests no, whatever, pressures or demands were to be made again on him, including in that sense prosecutions with the East Timor case," Darusman told reporters.

Eighteen former soldiers, police, militiamen and government officials are on trial or facing trial in Jakarta for alleged human rights violations. The cases are the outcome of the original human rights commission probe.

Testifying as a witness at one of the trials earlier this year, Wiranto said Indonesian security forces faced a "Mission Impossible" in East Timor because of what he called a 23-year conflict between those opposed and those in support of Indonesia.

Wiranto was not asked about widespread international accusations that the Indonesian military and senior Jakarta officials actually organised and directed the militia violence against independence supporters.

The violence led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, the forced deportation or fleeing of more than 250,000 East Timorese, and the destruction of much of East Timor's infrastructure.

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