Subject: TNI officers face new probe over rights violations in E. Timor

The Jakarta Post July 4, 2001

TNI officers face new probe over rights violations in E. Timor

JAKARTA (JP): A number of Indonesian Military (TNI) officers are facing a new probe into their alleged involvement in the gross human rights violations that took place in East Timor two years ago.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs Agum Gumelar revealed on Tuesday that the investigation had been requested by the UN-sanctioned Commission of Truth and Reconciliation, which was formed in the former Indonesian province on June 20.

Agum reiterated, however, that the government would avoid any attempts to bring Indonesian military officers before an international human rights tribunal.

"Considering the commission's objectives, the Indonesian government has decided to assign Pak Alwi Shihab to coordinate with other relevant offices in order to avoid any negative consequences arising from the investigation," Agum said, referring to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Agum issued an early warning to the commission, whose investigation itinerary remains unknown.

"The commission should not conduct a one-sided probe at the expense of our national interests," he said.

Both the government and the House of Representatives have been united in their stances of preventing any attempts to question Indonesian soldiers in connection with alleged crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the UN-supervised ballot that resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence in August 1999.

Although the Attorney General signed an MOU on the joint investigation into the East Timor atrocities with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor earlier this year, it is widely believed that any questioning of those involved would be lacking a legal basis as the government failed to consult the with the House about the agreement.

A combined probe conducted by state prosecutors has named three high-ranking military officers as suspects. They are the former Bali-based Udayana Military Commander, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, and the former East Timor Military Commanders, Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman and Col. Noer Muis. However, none of these officers have been sent to trial. (tso)

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