Subject: Sjafrie denies role in attack on Belo's residence

Jakarta Post December 30, 1999

Sjafrie denies role in attack on Belo's residence

JAKARTA (JP): Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin denied on Wednesday allegations that he was present or had anything to do with a militia attack on Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo's residence in Dili, East Timor, on Sept. 6.

"At that time, I was attending a regular staff meeting at the Indonesian Military (TNI) Headquarters (in Jakarta)," Sjafrie told reporters after being questioned by the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor.

KPP HAM has said that during a visit to the territory last month, eyewitnesses told the inquiry that Sjafrie was seen at the scene when Belo's residence was attacked by militiamen.

"I did not know about it and I was not there, so I deny this sensational information ... I deplore the fact that one-sided information has been announced to the public without first asking whether it was true or not," he added.

Sjafrie, who was an assistant to former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto when the ballot was held in East Timor on Aug. 30, said he only visited the territory twice this year, on Aug. 27 and Sept. 11.

"I was there in August to monitor and check the readiness of TNI personnel ahead of the ballot and I was there again on Sept. 11 as part of an advance team to prepare the arrival of UN Security Council members," said Sjafrie, who was Jakarta military commander during the May 1998 riots in the capital.

He was referring to the arrival of five members of UN Security Council in East Timor, which led to the deployment of international troops nine days later to stop the terror and destruction ravaging the territory.

KPP HAM in its midterm report claimed that, based on preliminary investigation and witnesses' accounts, TNI was directly or indirectly involved in the violence perpetrated by militias.

Former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto, who was questioned last week, has denied the allegations, saying the violence was an emotional outburst which was neither premeditated nor controllable.

Wiranto, who is now coordinating minister for political affairs and security, and Sjafrie are among a number of top military officers suspected of having prior knowledge of the East Timor violence.

Other officers to be questioned by the inquiry in the next few days include Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, Brig. Gen. Glen Kairupan and former battalion commanders in East Timor, Maj. Jacob Joko Sarosa and Maj. Yakraman Yagus.

KPP HAM members have said that former foreign affairs minister Ali Alatas will be questioned next week. (byg)


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