Subject: JP: E. Timor denies indicting RI generals

also: Wiranto: What to do with him?; and JP editorial: Ever illusive justice

The Jakarta Post February 28, 2003

E. Timor denies indicting RI generals

Berni K. Moestafa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The East Timor government denied on Thursday news reports that it has indicted former Indonesian Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and five other generals for crimes against humanity, ending concerns of a diplomatic rift.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said he had called East Timor's Ambassador to Indonesia Arlindo Marcel to his office on Thursday morning to explain reports over the indictment.

"The ambassador explained that the government of Timor Leste had not taken any decision on the indictment, it was only a recommendation," Hassan told reporters.

Aside from Wiranto, Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, Lt. Gen. (retired) Kiki Syahnakri, Maj. Gen. Adam Rachmat Damiri, Brig. Gen. Suhartono Suratman, and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Noer Muis were also reportedly indicted.

Indonesia and East Timor's nascent diplomatic channels were put to test over recent media reports on the general's charge.

The flurry began with a press statement by the Serious Crimes Unit under the United Nations Mission Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

It said UNMISET was mandated to, among other things, "focus its investigation" on those persons who were involved in violent crimes.

"In an effort to fulfill that mandate, the Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes filed an indictment on 24 Feb. 2003 with the Special Panel for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court in East Timor," the statement said.

The statement said that Wiranto along with seven high-ranking military officers and one civilian officer "have been charged with crimes against humanity".

But the United Nations later clarified UNIMISET's statement, saying it should be read as "East Timor indicts" and not the UN indicts, as reported by the media.

But the UN statement was further diluted, through Hassan's explanation that East Timor had not issued an indictment yet, and that it was just a recommendation.

"We have an ad-hoc human rights trial, and in fact, the East Timor government still believes in the national process with us," Hassan explained.

He was referring to the on-going human rights tribunal to bring to justice those responsible for the atrocities in East Timor.

Pro-Indonesia militias, allegedly backed by the Indonesian military, went on a violent rampage in the capital city of Dili after the East Timorese people overwhelmingly voted for independence in a UN-backed referendum in 1999.

Hundreds died and thousand fled the former province, prompting the UN to demand swift justice.

An international court was avoided after Indonesia agreed to set up an ad hoc human rights trial. But the court has acquitted virtually all senior military officers indicted, and did not charge Wiranto.

Indonesia would find itself in quandary if the UN had indeed indicted Wiranto. The move would have dealt a blow to the ongoing human rights trial here, undermining the country's credibility.

A UN indictment could also strain ties with the military.

Citing President Megawati Soekarnoputri's frequent overtures to the country's military elite, analysts have said the military continued to hold sway in the country's politics.

The Jakarta Post February 28, 2003

Wiranto: What to do with him?

Kornelius Purba, Staff Writer, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

When the Office of the Prosecutor General of Timor Leste indicted former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto, along with other six senior officers and a former East Timor governor for crimes against humanity, Indonesian officials responded to the indictment more as a matter of legal technicality rather than as touching the substance of justice.

"We also have to see whether such a request (to extradite the accused) is legally possible," President Megawati Soekarnoputri said in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday when asked about the prosecution.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda called on the UN and East Timor to respect the ongoing human rights trial in Jakarta. The minister stressed, "Legally, they do not have the capacity to reach non-East Timorese citizens."

Legislator Permadi even demanded that Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao should also be brought to court along with Wiranto for the same crimes that he was allegedly responsible for. Maybe Permadi had forgotten that Xanana was sentenced to 20 years in jail for subversion, and had served the sentence for several years in Cipinang prison in East Jakarta. It was president B.J. Habibie who pardoned Xanana just before the referendum in 1999.

Wiranto has denied accusations that he was responsible for the violence that occurred after the 1999 independence referendum. The UN agreed to let an Indonesian court handle the gross human rights violations. However, so far there is very little hope that justice will eventually be upheld.

One of the ad hoc court judges lambasted Dili Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo's refusal to testify, saying Belo did not deserve to be a bishop because of his refusal.

The state is obliged to defend Wiranto's rights against any international attempt to charge him, because the indictment concerns his official status as TNI commander at the time. In the coming weeks, street rallies to defend Wiranto and other officers might occur.

It is hurtful, if not a humiliation, for many Indonesians that their general is wanted by the country's former colony East Timor for gross human rights abuses during the 1999 independence referendum in the territory. Since the economic crisis hit the country in 1997, the international community has treated Indonesia as a pariah state, and there is no indication of when the nation can regain its position as an honorable member of the world community.

As we have suffered from continuous humiliation for six years, there is fear that we may also lose our sense of consciousness, if not humanity. We tend to sideline the most fundamental question: Why does this disparagement continue? We prefer to ask what is wrong with other people rather than ourselves.

Many believe there is a grand scenario to break up Indonesia, as happened with the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, by the U.S. and other western countries because a strong Indonesia is a threat to their superiority. Even if there were such a scenario, shouldn't we also ask ourselves how it came about?

Do not blame other nations for not trusting our legal system, because their view is also shared by most Indonesians. Corrupt prosecutors, police and even judges become the subject of routine news reports. The indictment against the generals only reflects international distrust of the government's ability to resolve the matter.

And could Minister Hassan honestly trust his own appeal to respect the ongoing human rights trial in Jakarta? He would laugh (most likely).

The nation should not let Wiranto or any Indonesian citizens be humiliated by a foreign court. But we can take that stance only after we can prove that our legal system has worked sufficiently to uphold justice.

Former president Soeharto lives in peace at his residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta. Hundreds of students who marched daily to Megawati's residence on Jl. Teuku Umar to protest her policy on price hikes even seemed to forget that Soeharto's residence is only a few hundred meters from Megawati's.

Remember the journalist Muhammad Fuad "Udin" Syafruddin who was killed in 1996, a murder widely linked to his reports on alleged corruption by then Bantul regent Col. Sri Roso? The media community holds out little hope that Udin's killer will be found.

Regarding Wiranto, we hope that he can continue enjoying life in peace if his pledge of innocence is proven.

However, we should not forget the case of former Serbian president Milan Milutinovic and Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, who currently face the International Court of Justice in The Hague for their alleged atrocities. They had to go to The Hague because their two countries failed to uphold justice.

There is no intention to corner the TNI here. The nation needs a strong military force to defend the people from outside threats. TNI leaders have also reiterated that they are subject to the law just like any other Indonesian citizen.

The nation can be trapped into narrow-minded nationalism in facing international pressure to bring the officers to court. But as long as the roots of the problems remain untouched, the nation remains in denial.

Sometimes we do admit things in private, however. Once, a minister staunchly defended his colleague who faced charges of sexually harassing a male hotel employee in New Zealand.

In public the minister strongly defended the fellow Cabinet member. But when asked in private whether he really believed in his friend's innocence, he burst into laughter.

Should we also laugh when asked about our law enforcement?

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