Subject: General faces 10 years in prison

The Jakarta Post July 11, 2002

General faces 10 years in prison
Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Nearly four months after the start of the landmark ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal, former Udayana Military commander Maj. Gen. Adam R. Damiri appeared as a suspect on Wednesday for his alleged role in crimes against humanity during the East Timor violence.

Damiri, the highest ranking Army officer on trial, is accused of failing to prevent his troops from committing atrocities before and after the East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Now the assistant of operations at the Indonesian Military (TNI)'s general staff office, Damiri faces a jail term of at least 10 years.

Asked by Presiding Judge Emy Marni Mustafa whether he understood the charges, Damiri said calmly: "I understand the charges but I reject all of them. I was not on the field (at the time of the attacks)."

Damiri was overseeing, among other things, East Timor from the military command's headquarters in Bali.

In an apparent show of support, Damiri's immediate superior, TNI chief of general affairs Lt. Gen. Djamari Chaniago, appeared in court along with several other high-ranking officers.

Dozens of Damiri's colleagues from the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) were also present.

Prointegration militia in East Timor went on a rampage before and after the UN-sponsored ballot in 1999, with the United Nations estimating about 1000 East Timorese were killed.

Reports surfaced almost instantly of the involvement of the Indonesian Military (TNI) in arming and aiding the rampaging pro-Indonesia militias.

Damiri is among 18 military, police and civilian officials as well as militia leaders whom the government has alleged were responsible for the killing, assault, and forced displacement of East Timorese.

Several lower ranking military officers and policemen have been brought to trial, although the court has yet to issue a verdict.

Foreign and domestic critics have accused Indonesia with foot dragging. They note the trials have been unable to trace the chain of command back to higher ranking officials, notably to former TNI chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto.

The 1982 law on Indonesian security and defense principles, and the 1983 presidential decree on the TNI headquarters puts the president as the top command chief, with the TNI's chief holding the effective command of responsibility.

According to the 2000 Law on human rights tribunal, Damiri is facing a minimum jail term of 10 years if the court finds him guilty of letting his men help the militias.


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