Subject: Rights Violators Eurico Guterres and Bambang Kristiono Demand Fair Treatment

The Jakarta Post

Friday, June 29, 2007

Convicted rights violators demand fair treatment

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Two human rights violators -- one convicted over the deadly 1999 East Timor riots and a former Indonesian Military major convicted for abducting activists -- have made calls for equal treatment of all human rights violation cases.

M. Mahendradatta, legal representative for Eurico Guterres and Bambang Kristiono, said Thursday at the Constitutional Court that his clients object to the House of Representatives' involvement in the establishment of the ad hoc Human Rights Court mandated by Article 43 of the 2000 Human Rights Court Law.

Mahendradatta stressed that House members would always have their own political interests and should, therefore, not participate in the criminal justice system.

"Why doesn't the government establish a Human Rights Court like the Anti-Corruption Court instead of (having) a complicated ad hoc one?" the lawyer asked reporters rhetorically after the hearing.

Mahendradatta said that if the Human Rights Court is to have a system similar to the Anti-Corruption Court's, then no space should be made for political intervention.

"Eurico Guterres feels that he has been discriminated against because he was among the 17 of 21 people selected by the House to be tried.

"Why weren't the other four tried?" he asked.

"That means the House involved itself in law enforcement by making its own judgment on whether a person should be tried or not," Mahendradatta said.

Guterres was formerly vice commander of the pro-Indonesia Integration Fighters Force in then East Timor. The Supreme Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison in March last year over the deadly violence before, during and after the East Timor independence referendum in August 1999.

Currently held at Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta, Guterres has denied his involvement in the 1999 East Timor riots, but acknowledged his subordinates may have been responsible for the subsequent murders.

In a March hearing with the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship in Jakarta, Guterres placed responsibility for the incident on his own shoulders.

Mahendradatta said judges should recognize that the ad hoc Human Rights Court contradicts the 1945 Constitution.

"The (Constitutional) Court should review that law," he said.

Earlier this month, Bambang, the former commander of Tim Mawar (Rose Team) who was found guilty of abducting nine activists in May 1998, requested that the Constitutional Court readdress Article 43 of the Human Rights Court law.

Mahendradatta said Bambang felt his freedom was jeopardized after the House formed a special committee to investigate the 1997-1998 forced disappearance of activists and recommended that the case be brought to the Human Rights Court.

"My client is ready to be tried again as long as the trial is held in the context of a free and independent judicial power," Mahendradatta said.

Then Maj. Bambang, who served 20 months in prison and was dishonorably discharged from the Indonesian Military for his actions, said the law infringed on his rights as a citizen.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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