Subject: Indonesia Vows to Avoid Int'l War Crimes Court

Jakarta Post December 08, 1999

Indonesia vows to avoid war crimes court

JAKARTA (JP): Foreign minister Alwi Shihab said on Tuesday Indonesia would not allow its generals to be tried overseas.

Responding to concerns from legislators that top military officers may be subject to international humiliation and trial abroad, Alwi said the government was doing its utmost to see that it would not happen.

"We will try not to deliver the generals to an international tribunal," he said during a hearing with the House's Commission I on defense and foreign affairs.

The government would lobby various parties to ensure that an international tribunal is not convened. He pointed to a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as one example.

Alwi said he also did not wish to see Indonesia's generals hounded like criminals abroad.

"We don't want generals unable to travel overseas and be arrested like Pinochet," he said, referring to the former Chilean ruler who was arrested in England during a visit.

Indonesia has rejected the idea of an international tribunal on East Timor and contended it can properly investigate and try those responsible for violence in its former province by itself.

Jakarta has set up its own inquiry headed by lawyer Albert Hasibuan. In its midterm report the inquiry said Indonesian Military officials knew of the abuses going on.

The Indonesian and United Nations's inquiry team, headed by Costa Rican Sonia Picado, met on Monday to compare notes and both agreed on the involvement of certain military officials in the violence.

Separately, Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said on Tuesday he would not interfere with a judicial process on human rights violations in East Timor as long as fairness and impartiality could be guaranteed.

He said international accusations of rights violations must be first proven through a legal process.

"There has to be a clear process of evidence -- not just based on reported media developments, including news from foreign countries, which has tremendous influence on public opinion," he said.

Juwono underlined it was the Indonesian team which "should be accepted to lead the agency in the inquiry rather than the reverse".

"That is linked to our economic interests because I believe that the degree of credibility in the findings... will be sufficiently adequate to enable the UN Security Council and secretary-general to decide on what level of punishment would be adequate to address to Indonesia," Juwono said, adding that he had met Picado on Monday. (jun/mds)


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