Subject: Ad hoc judges for rights tribunal to be inducted soon in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post January 19, 2002

Ad hoc judges for rights tribunal to be inducted soon

Tiarma Siboro and Annastashya Emmanuelle, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

All of the ad hoc judges for the human rights tribunal being set up to try past crimes against humanity in East Timor and Tanjung Priok are expected to be installed next week, but there is still no sign as to when the first trial will begin.

Chief Justice Bagir Manan told reporters on Friday that both the president of the Central Jakarta District Court and the president of the Jakarta High Court had agreed to induct the judges sometime next week.

"However, the first hearing may not be held that soon as we are still waiting for the Attorney General's Office to hand over the books of evidence," Bagir said after inaugurating three deputy governors of Bank Indonesia at the Supreme Court.

The president of the Central Jakarta District Court will swear in 30 trial judges while the president of the Jakarta High Court will install 12 appeal judges. The ad hoc tribunal will consist of both career and noncareer judges.

The Attorney General's Office completed its investigations into the two cases late last year.

Three army generals, a police general and a number of middle-ranking officers are among the 19 suspects who are facing trial for alleged gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999 before and after the Aug. 30 vote for independence.

They will be charged under 12 sets of charges, each of which include separate violations within specific categories.

The Attorney General's Office has also named three senior high-ranking military officers as suspects in the Tanjung Priok bloodshed in 1984.

Thus far, the ad hoc tribunal will focus on these two cases as trials in respect of other abuse cases have failed to secure approval from the House of Representatives.

In decree No. 6/2002, the President appointed 18 noncareer judges to try the crimes against humanity. They will work together with 12 career judges appointed by Bagir.

One of the noncareer judge for the court of first instance, Hendra Nurtjahjo, has tendered his resignation after the Supreme Court found he was in breach of the minimum age requirement of 45 years.

Bagir said the Supreme Court would not tolerate any attempts to falsify age.

"Should he (Hendra) not voluntarily resign, I myself will ask the President to annul his appointment," Bagir asserted.

Law No. 26/2000 on the Human Rights Tribunal also restricts judicial candidates for the appeal court to those who are under 65.

Justice Benyamin Mangkoedilaga, who heads the team selecting the ad hoc judges, defended the nomination of Hendra by the University of Indonesia's School of Law. He was recommended by the dean of the school,

"His (Hendra's) nomination was based merely on his excellent academic record," Benyamin said, adding that the team was considering making an exception in the case of the 33-year-old lecturer.

Earlier in a day, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said that the ad hoc human rights tribunal could start its work without having to wait for the induction of appeal judges.

"In my opinion (the trials) can now commence. We need not wait for every aspect to be perfect," Yusril told reporters before attending a cabinet meeting at the State Palace on Friday.

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