Subject: Age: Wiranto hits back on UN allegations [2 reports]

also: Wiranto lawyer says E. Timor prosecutors want to sabotage presidential bid

The Age March 25, 2004

Wiranto hits back on UN allegations

By Matthew Moore Indonesia Correspondent Jakarta

Former Indonesian military chief and prominent presidential candidate General Wiranto has challenged United Nations prosecutors in East Timor to come to Indonesia and discuss their allegations that he is guilty of gross human rights abuses.

Acting as General Wiranto's spokesman yesterday, former Indonesian justice minister Professor Muladi said General Wiranto would meet the leaders of the UN's Serious Crimes Unit if they agreed to visit Indonesia before the election, which will take place on April 5.

Professor Muladi accused the UN prosecutors of "character assassination" and released a document, approved by General Wiranto, which argues that attempts by UN prosecutors to obtain a warrant for General Wiranto's arrest are a breach of international law.

The UN this week released a summary of evidence against General Wiranto that says that, as head of the armed forces of Indonesia in 1999, he was responsible for the deaths of more than 1500 East Timorese killed mainly by militias armed, trained and funded by the Indonesian military.

Professor Muladi challenged the UN's attempts to have General Wiranto arrested on the grounds that Indonesia had established an ad hoc human rights tribunal, which had heard allegations of human rights abuses against members of the Indonesian military and convicted several of them.

"As long as the human rights court in Indonesia has demonstrated its willingness and ability to bring to justice those responsible, the international community should respect and honour the existing court in Indonesia unless the UN has made an assessment it's a sham," Professor Muladi said.

While he conceded that Indonesia's tribunal had been severely criticised by many countries and admitted it "may have weaknesses", he defended its work as mainly "professional, independent and impartial".

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Agence France Presse March 24, 2004

Wiranto lawyer says E. Timor prosecutors want to sabotage presidential bid

JAKARTA

A lawyer for former Indonesian military chief Wiranto accused East Timor prosecutors on Wednesday of trying to sabotage the general's bid for the Indonesian presidency by seeking his arrest.

The United Nations-funded prosecutors are urging an East Timor court to issue an arrest warrant for Wiranto, saying he failed to curb militia atrocities in the territory in 1999.

The lawyer, Muladi, said the allegations amount to "character assassination."

"The issue has been deliberately blown up because his (Wiranto's) position is getting stronger in the race for the presidency. Maybe there are concerns abroad or at home," the lawyer said.

Wiranto is seeking the Golkar party's nomination for the presidential election in July and has already started a high-profile campaign.

The Washington Post reported in January that the United States has put Wiranto and others accused of war crimes in East Timor on a visa watch list that could bar them from entering the country,

Muladi said the bid for an arrest warrant for alleged crimes against humanity violates international law.

He told a press conference that Indonesian authorities, involving the national human rights commission, had investigated Wiranto and decided not to charge him over the abuses in East Timor.

Muladi, who was justice minister when the East Timor atrocities took place, said Jakarta had set up a human rights court over the 1999 violence.

He alleged that during the trials there was no evidence that the violence had been orchestrated by the military.

Muladi said that "based on the complementary principle of international law," it was inadmissable to seek to try someone overseas if a case had been investigated.

Pro-Jakarta militias, aided by Indonesian soldiers, waged a bloody campaign against independence supporters before and after East Timorese voted in August 1999 to break away from Indonesian rule.

The UN says up to 1,500 civilians were killed and some 70 percent of the country's buildings were destroyed.

Wiranto has said he did his best to prevent the violence. But East Timor prosecutors cite "overwhelming" evidence that he failed to prevent atrocities or to punish them.

"The evidence shows that (Indonesian) armed forces assisted in the formation, funding, training and arming of the militias and that they often assisted in the militia violence or stood by and let it happen," says a prosecution brief.

Jakarta's rights court has been described by human rights groups as largely a sham.


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