Subject: AFP: 10 years' jail sought for former Timor commander

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse February 5, 2003

Indonesian prosecutor seeks 10 years' jail for former Timor commander

A prosecutor asked Indonesia's human rights court to jail the former military commander of East Timor for 10 years for failing to prevent massacres in the territory in 1999.

Prosecutor Widodo Supriyadi said Brigadier General Noer Muis, 49, should have been able to maintain security during and after the UN-held independence vote in August that year.

He said the failure of Muis to anticipate the violence before and after the vote to separate from Indonesia consisted "a gross violation of human rights."

The repeated violence in several locations led to the death of civilians including women and children, the prosecutor said Wednesday.

Supriyadi cited the attack by pro-Indonesian militias on refugee-packed venues in Suai and Dili.

An attack on a church in Suai left 26 killed, and attacks on the residence of the Dili bishop and on the Dili diocese led to 13 deaths.

Muis told reporters after the hearing that "what the prosecutor said was not in line with the facts in the field."

He said that under his command, the military in East Timor had done its best to anticipate the violence.

The trial resumes on February 17. Judges are not obliged to follow the prosecutor's sentence recommendation if they find Muis guilty.

The rights court has convicted two officers, East Timor's former civilian governor and a militia leader, but has acquitted 10 other security force members and a civilian. Three senior army officers including Muis are awaiting judgment.

The local militias, who were armed and organised by the Indonesian military, launched a brutal campaign of intimidation before East Timor's vote to break away from Indonesia and a revenge campaign afterwards.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed and much of the impoverished territory was laid to waste. East Timor finally achieved independence in May last year after 31 months of United Nations stewardship.

International rights groups have strongly criticised the previous acquittals and described the rights court as a sham.


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