Subject: JP: Johny denies responsibility over mayhem in East Timor

The Jakarta Post October 6, 2001

Johny denies responsibility over mayhem in East Timor

Fabiola Desy Unidjaya, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former deputy Army chief of staff Gen. Johny Lumintang denied on Friday any responsibility over systematic human rights violations in East Timor in 1999 after it voted for independence from Indonesia.

Johny made the statement in response to a conclusion by the U.S. Federal Court that he was guilty of the mayhem and was therefore ordered to pay US$66 million in damages to the victims.

"As a deputy Army chief of staff at the time, I was not directly involved in any decisions on East Timor," said Johny, who is currently the secretary-general of the Ministry of Defense.

"I haven't heard about the court decision and am not thinking about any legal suit," Johny said on the sidelines of a ceremony for the celebration of the 56th anniversary of the Indonesian Military (TNI).

Federal Court Judge Alan Kay, in a ruling made public on Thursday, concluded that Lumintang was guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor in August 1999.

Kay's conclusion was made after a civil suit was filed by a group of six East Timorese against Johny last year.

The court's decision was hailed by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN), saying that the ruling sent a strong message that TNI and the Indonesian police were responsible for the gross human rights violations.

"The judgment sent a strong messages that the Indonesian military, police and political leaders responsible for the 1999 devastation of East Timor should be held accountable," John Miller from (ETAN) said.

He further said that the Indonesian government lacked the will to prosecute high-ranking military officials in these cases.

When asked whether Johny was going to appeal, he said that he would leave it to the Indonesian government as the decision taken during the 1999 mayhem was a state decision, not a personal one.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said the U.S. court decision was only "symbolic" and should be ignored, because there was no way in which the Washington court could enforce its decision against Indonesian citizens.

"Just ignore it," the foreign minister said, adding, "There is no such thing as an extra-territorial application of a domestic law on other countries. It (the ruling) has been decided but I don't think there is any way to enforce it unless Johny has millions of dollars in cash in a U.S. bank account."

The international community continues to wait for Indonesian government action to put high-ranking military officers on trial for the mayhem in East Timor.

An Ad-Hoc human rights tribunal is due to start its first trial on a East Timor case in December. Currently the Supreme Court is in the process of selecting the judges for the tribunal.

Indonesian Military (TNI) Spokesman Air Vice Marshall Graito Usodo told The Jakarta Post that the ruling did not apply to Johny or TNI because the trial had taken place overseas and had used foreign law.

"We respect its decision but it does not have any significance here because a foreign court tried an Indonesian citizen for something that he had allegedly done in his own country ... so its decision has no legal implications for Pak Johny," he said.

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