Subject: E Timor prosecutor shifts on Wiranto warrant?
Interpol issues arrest warrant against General Wiranto
AM - Tuesday, 11 May , 2004 08:28:00
Reporter: Anne Barker
TONY EASTLEY: East Timor's Prosecutor-General plans to refer an arrest warrant against Indonesia's former Armed Forces Chief, Wiranto, to Interpol. A court in Dili yesterday issued a warrant for Wiranto's arrest; on the grounds he's guilty of crimes against humanity, involving the deaths of civilians in East Timor in 1999. Wiranto has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Anne Barker reports, it remains to be seen whether Interpol lists Wiranto on its international wanted list before he contests Indonesia's Presidential elections in July.
ANNE BARKER: If Indonesia's singing General and political aspirant, Wiranto, were to win the country's first presidential elections in July, he could face the international embarrassment of being the Head of State who could never travel abroad.
It's now just a matter of time before Interpol acts on yesterday's arrest warrant, by issuing a red notice alerting all 180 member nations that Wiranto is a wanted man, and that would make it near impossible for Wiranto, President or not, to leave the country.
East Timor's Prosecutor-General, Longuinhos Monteiro, says he will refer the warrant to Interpol, just as soon as he has reviewed the case.
LONGUINHOS MONTEIRO: We make sure that everything is okay and then we submit it and then the request will be evaluated, back into the office of the legal advisor of the Secretary General of Interpol. Then after three months they will answer if they will accept or not accept.
ANNE BARKER: The decision to issue the warrant took everyone by surprise. Not least the prosecutors themselves who have waited 15 months since they first indicted Wiranto on charges of crimes against humanity.
Prosecutor Monteiro himself agrees that the nature and timing of the warrant, coming just three weeks after Wiranto's nomination as the Golkar Party's Presidential candidate, could amount to political interference, perhaps even from the United Nations.
LONGUINHOS MONTEIRO: The arrest warrant is only issued for one person from the seven, who we requested the same thing, for the same indictment and the same request. I presume that this may be some political interference, behind all of this, so the judge just issued one of the seven indictments that was requested by the office of the Prosecutor-General.
ANNE BARKER: But red notice or not, there is little chance that Wiranto will ever go to trial, short of taking his own decision to face the court in a bid to clear his name. None of the hundreds of other people charged in absentia with similar crimes has ever been extradited to East Timor. And Indonesia as a member of Interpol has no obligation to act on the warrant.
TONY EASTLEY: Anne Barker.
Tuesday May 11, 09:00 PM
E Timor prosecutor seeks Wiranto warrant revision
East Timor's Prosecutor General has filed a court motion for a "revision" of the case against Indonesian presidential candidate Wiranto, a day after a UN-backed court issued a warrant for his arrest.
"I regret that arrest warrant," Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro told a press conference.
"My men have 'opened fire' without an order from me," he said, implying that his subordinates had acted without authorisation.
Meanwhile, hundreds of students and victims rallied outside the United Nations Mission in support of East Timor, calling for Wiranto to be brought before an international tribunal.
Members of parliament questioned why the arrest warrant had been issued just days before the UN mission was due to be replaced by a smaller body.
Mr Monteiro also expressed suspicion about the timing of the warrant, which authorises Wiranto's arrest on charges of crimes against humanity.
The charges include murder, deportation or the forcible transfer of people, and persecution.
The warrant alleges Wiranto, the former Indonesian Armed Forces commander, had responsibility for the military, police and militia forces who carried out the crimes surrounding East Timor's split from Indonesia in 1999.
"Why wasn't the arrest warrant issued one year ago? Are there interests behind that?" Mr Monteiro said.
He gave no details about how the "revision" of Wiranto's case would be carried out but said it would have no influence on the warrant itself.
"Now I hope for support from the people of Timor Leste to help me execute my strategy for settling the Wiranto case," he said.
Mr Monteiro heads a staff of UN-funded prosecutors who indicted Wiranto and six other senior officers in February 2003.
Aside from Wiranto, only one has been served with an arrest warrant.
In January, Mr Monteiro accused UN-appointed judges working in Dili of hindering his efforts to get the warrants.
East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao has said good relations with the former ruling power should take priority over court proceedings.
Asked whether he was under political pressure within East Timor, Mr Monteiro said that he and the President had separate strategies but "as an East Timorese, I think more about the national interests of my people".
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