Subject: KY: Indonesian Supreme Court upholds sentence to ex-E. Timor governor

Indonesian Supreme Court upholds sentence to ex-E. Timor governor

JAKARTA, April 7 (Kyodo) Indonesia's Supreme Court has upheld a special court's decision to acquit a middle-ranking officer and to sentence a senior government official on charges of gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999 when its people voted to separate from Indonesia, court sources said late Wednesday.

A source, who asked not to be named, told Kyodo News that in a decision dated April 1, a five-member Supreme Court judicial panel upheld the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal's verdict two years ago to sentence former East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares to three years in jail.

Soares was found guilty of ''not taking proper actions to prevent violence'' from happening before, during and after the 1999 U.N.-organized referendum on self-determination in East Timor.

The alleged violations occurred during a series of attacks against pro-independence East Timorese in the towns of Liquica, Dili and Suai between April and September of 1999, during which more than 100 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

The source, however, refused to go into more details. During the trial in the special human rights court in 2002, state prosecutors sought 10 and a half years in jail for Soares.

Separately, Supreme Judge Dirwoto told Kyodo News that the Supreme Court also upheld the special court's verdict in December 2002 to acquit Lt. Col. Yayat Sudrajat, who was a commander of a task force unit of the army's special forces command (KOPASSUS) in East Timor's capital Dili.

Prosecutors had earlier accused Sudrajat of failing to stop members of the pro-Jakarta militia Besi Merah Putih from attacking pro-independence refugees in a church in April 1999 that left five people dead and 20 others injured.

''Prosecutors failed to show even a single piece of proof over the involvement of the defendant in the violence,'' Dirwoto said.

''There is no proof that can show a connection between the defendant and the conflicting parties in East Timor... What happened in the incident was out of his responsibilities,'' he added.

A spokesman at the Attorney General's Office said he has not received a copy of the Supreme Court's decisions, but said, ''We will accept whatever decision made by the court.''

The Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal tried 18 people involving in the East Timor violence, but acquitted most of them, especially the military and police officers.

In December 2002, the tribunal handed down a 10-year sentence to feared Aitarak militia leader Eurico Guterres.

Militia groups began escalating violence and intimidation against pro-independence people in April 1999 ahead of a U.N.-sponsored referendum Aug. 30 that year.

Soon after the announcement of the referendum results Sept. 4, 1999, the militia groups launched a campaign of violence and destruction across East Timor, which was a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years before being invaded by Indonesia in 1975.

East Timor gained independence May 20, 2002, after more than 24 years under Indonesian occupation and two and a half years under United Nations administration.

Amid some criticism over the fairness of the tribunal, East Timor's government has so far ruled out the idea of seeking justice at an international tribunal and has instead made efforts to build a close relationship with its former occupier and giant neighbor.

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[for some background on Yayat Sudrajat role see http://www.yayasanhak.minihub.org/]


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