Subject: RA: Report rubbishes Timor trials

Radio Australia

INDONESIA: Report rubbishes Timor trials 14/05/2002 16:15:06 | Asia Pacific Programs


Former Indonesian militia leader Eurico Guterres is being questioned in Jakarta today at the trials of 18-military, police and civilian officials accused of human rights abuses in East Timor. But a new report released by the International Crisis Group has described the trials as a farce. It says the limited mandate of the court, the weak indictments against the 18-accused and the inexperience of the prosecution and judiciary, raise serious doubts as to whether the trials will ever reveal the true extent of the military's responsibility.


JONES: "There's been too much focus on whether or not these trials will lead to convictions of the military and police officers and some of the militia people who have been charged. And the point that this paper makes, is that it doesn't matter whether people are convicted or acquitted.

"The important point is that the mandate of the court and the way the indictments have been drafted are such that the truth of military institutional involvement in the violence that took place in 1999 will never come out.

"There are two reasons for that. One is that the court itself which is called an ad hoc human rights court was set up not to look at everything that happened in 1999 which would allow the prosecutors to actually get at the role of the state in the violence that took place, but only on five specific cases, and if you only look at five specific cases, you can't really at crimes against humanity which is what these people are being charged with.

"The second problem is that the prosecutors themselves, whether out of inexperience or out of a deliberate effort to weaken the nature of the evidence have not even charged the most senior army and police officers with actually direct, personal involvement in what took place.

"Instead, they've been charged with basically failing to prevent violence that took place between two equally matched sides, the pro-independent side and the pro-Indonesia side, and that's not an accurate description of what took place in Timor."

LOPRESTI: So you have a sloppy prosecution and your report also suggests inexperienced judges in trying human rights crimes and a lack of interest from both the government and the media. Were these trials set up to fail from the word go?

JONES: "It's difficult to say whether they were set up deliberately to fail, but the fact is they will fail. There's no way with these kinds of indictments and the limited mandate of the court that anything remotely resembling justice for what took place in East Timor will actually take place."

LOPRESTI: And if the trials as you say reinforce Indonesian public perception that the pro-independence victory in East Timor was the result of international ill will among other things. What future is there for the independence movements in Aceh and West Papua, given also that your reports suggest that even the UN is being portrayed as manipulative and biased?

JONES: "I think the important point is that there will be no pressure from within Indonesia to actually hold the military accountable for anything more than basically what amounts to negligence.

"And the fact that the word militia doesn't even appear in any of the indictments and there's no real effort to get at the role of the army in creating, equipping, funding and training the militias who were for most of the violence means that there will be no deterrent in the future to the military's using such militias in Papua or Aceh.

"That element of state policy is not going to come out in these trials and that has real implications for the way conflicts elsewhere in Indonesia merge, even has implications for the military's role in supporting Laskar Jihad the private radical Muslim militia that's been operating in both the Maluku's and in Central Sulawesi.

"The other implication of the failure to adequately address state policy is that indeed the United Nations is not going to be able to act as a mediator or facilitator for conflicts in Indonesia should there be a possibility of such a role in future conflicts, simply because the impression that one gets from these trials and from the prosection, not just the defence, not human sense is that indeed the problem if it didn't originate with the UN certainly had much to do with the UN's actions and the truth of what happened and what the UN did is not going to come out from the trials."

LOPRESTI: And also in your view no-one is going to be held accountable for the post-election violence in East Timor?

JONES: "Not only not for the post-election violence but no-one is going to be held accountable in a meaningful way for the violence that took place throughout 1999.

"That's why I say it doesn't really matter whether there will be convictions or not. I think there probably will be some convictions. But the convictions are going to be on the basis of evidence that suggest that these were basically ordinary clients. The whole notion of the enormity of what took place in East Timor and the notion of crimes against humanity is simply going to be trivialised."

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14/05/2002 16:15:06 | Asia Pacific Programs

see fpr text pf ICG Report

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