Subject: AFP: Indonesia court acquits military officer on Timor rights charges

Also: LtCol (Inf) Yayat Sudrajat from Masters of Terror database

Agence France Presse

December 30, 2002 Monday

Indonesia court acquits military officer on Timor rights charges


BODY: Indonesia's human rights court on Monday cleared an army officer of crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

Colonel Yayat Sudrajat was the 10th member of the Indonesian security forces to be acquitted by the court over the army-backed militia bloodshed before and after the territory broke away from Indonesia.

A civilian has also been acquitted while one army officer and two East Timorese civilians have been jailed. They are free pending appeal.

International and local human rights groups have called the court a sham.

"I am thankful to the panel of judges who have issued a fair and just verdict," an overjoyed Sudrajat told reporters.

Prosecutors accused him of failing to prevent an attack on a church in the town of Liquica on April 6, 1999 by the local Besi Merah Putih (BMP, Red-and-White Iron) pro-Jakarta militia. At least 22 people were killed.

Some 200 East Timorese had been seeking refuge in the church from the violence.

"Colonel Yayat Sudrajat has not been proven, legally and convincingly, to have engaged in the crime of human rights violations as charged," said Judge Cicut Sutiarto.

Sutiarto said Sudrajat, who headed the Kopassus special forces command in East Timor, was not in command of the militia.

"Because of the absence of the line of command and effective control, the defendant, Yayat Sudrajat, cannot be legally punished or held responsible for violations by the BMP who were not under his command," Sutiarto said.

Three generals and a former Dili police chief are still awaiting verdicts from the rights court, which was set up to deflect pressure for an international war crimes tribunal. The most senior Indonesian officers were not charged.

Hendardi, of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, was not surprised by Monday's verdict.

"Our perspective has always been that this court is a show," he told AFP.

He said the pattern was clear from the start when senior officers including General Wiranto -- armed forces commander at the time -- were not named as suspects.

"The Indonesian government is using this opportunity, while the world is preoccupied with terrorism, to free these people," Hendardi said.

The fact that one military officer was sentenced last Friday is only a way to respond to international criticism generated by all the other acquittals, he said.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch this month called the trials a whitewash. "Indonesia has failed in its promise to hold the military accountable for the atrocities in East Timor, " it said.

The United States suspended most military relations with Indonesia over the 1999 bloodshed. It has said it cannot resume full military ties without an accounting for the abuses.

Pro-Indonesian local militias, who were armed and organised by the military, launched a brutal campaign of intimidation before the August 1999 vote to break away from Indonesia and a revenge campaign afterwards.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed and much of the impoverished territory was laid waste. East Timor finally achieved independence in May after 31 months of United Nations stewardship.

Earlier, the former provincial governor Abilio Soares was sentenced to three years in jail and ex-militia leader Eurico Guterres was sentenced to 10 years.

LtCol (Inf) Yayat Sudrajat

Commander of the Combined Intelligence Task Force (Satuan Gabungan Intelijen, SGI), Dili

Yayat Sudrajat, a Kopassus intelligence officer, was listed by KPP HAM for passing weapons to militia groups. Much of the evidence rests on the testimony of Tomas Goncalves, local government regent (bupati) in Ermera and a militia leader who defected to Macau in April 1999. Goncalves said he first met senior military officers at a meeting in late 1998 to discuss plans to recruit local militias to counter an expected referendum on East Timor's future. Present at the meeting at the Dili military headquarters were regional commander Maj-Gen Adam Damiri and East Timor commander Col Tono Suratman. Other meetings followed. Governor Abilio Soares was present at at least one of these in March 1999, where he said an 'operation' was being planned that involved killing pro-independence leaders and their families.[1]

Regularly present at these meetings, claiming to represent both Adam Damiri and Tono Suratman, was the commander of the intelligence unit Combined Intelligence Task Force (Satuan Gabungan Intelijen, SGI), which was also known as Tribuana Task Force VIII and was run by Kopassus. East Timorese had long feared SGI for the impunity with which it employed torture against detainees.

The SGI commander was a special staff member reporting to the East Timor military commander (Danrem) with intelligence information to assist the latter's work. The intelligence task force had representatives in every district command headquarters around East Timor (presumably these were the district intelligence officer, Kasil Intel)

Yayat Sudrajat replaced LtCol Wioyotomo Nugroho in this post some time early in 1999, and he was in turn apparently replaced just before the ballot by Col Anwar.[2]

One such meeting was held on 16 February 1999. Sudrajat was in charge of distributing money (Rp 200,000 for a new recruit) and weapons. Goncalves said Yayat Sudrajat turned up in Ermera in March 1999 with three pickups loaded with hundreds of firearms to be distributed to militias.

On 6 April 1999, the day of the Liquica church massacre (see LtCol Asep Kuswani), Yayat Sudrajat was present in the Liquica military district headquarters. East Timor deputy military commander Col Mudjiono had asked him to come along and observe the deteriorating situation at the church. He had with him three Kopassus soldiers and two regular TNI soldiers, all of whom took part in the attack at the church. Sudrajat personally went to the scene of the attack as soon as it erupted.[3]

Sudrajat worked closely with the territorial military command structure.[4] One of his SGI officers, Tome Diogo, intelligence officer at the Liquica district command, was among those indicted for crimes against humanity in the Dili district court over the Liquica massacre.[5]

Yayat Sudrajat revealed little during interrogation by Indonesian officials in September 2000, saying he was only doing his job. His career has not suffered. After his SGI appointment in Dili he briefly held the position of deputy commander of Kopassus Group 4 (Sandi Yudha, intelligence/ secret warfare), based in Cijantung, Jakarta. He was then promoted to battalion commander of Kopassus Group V (counter-terrorism), and then in about March 2000 to intelligence assistant to the Kopassus general commander (Asintel Danjen Kopassus), replacing Sunarko, at the same time rising in rank to colonel.[6]

Kopassus was, according to Western intelligence sources, involved in destabilising operations in several parts of Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Aceh, the Moluccas as well as East Timor) in 2000.[7]

[1] 'Menyeret Wiranto ke pengadilan', Xpos, No. 05/III, 13-19 February 2000; 'Laying the blame: East Timor January-September 1999', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2001; 'The Kopassus-militia alliance', Tapol Bulletin, No. 154/5, November 1999; 'Rekomendasi KPP HAM tidak mempengaruhi karir perwira', TNI Watch!, 18 February 2000; 'The ties that bind', Four Corners TV program transcript, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, broadcast 14 February 2000; Marian Wilkinson, 'Justice must be done', The Age [Melbourne] and Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 2000; Interview with Tomas Goncalves, Radio Hilversum, 6 October 1999; Jill Jolliffe, 'Army plot "to seize territory ahead of vote"', Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 1999; 'Noer Muis: Saya hanya menjalankan instruksi dari atas', Kompas, 12 September 2000.

[2] 'Johny Lumintang investigated over May 5 cable', Kompas, 24 December 1999.

[3] Trial documents for the Indonesian Ad Hoc Court available on JSMP website.

[4] 'The Kopassus-militia alliance', Tapol Bulletin, No. 154/5, November 1999.

[5] Case 2/ 2002, Serious Crimes documents (summary on JSMP website). See Eurico Guterres for a list of those indicted.

[6] 'Penyidikan Kejaksaan Agung tidak menghambat karir perwira', TNI Watch! 15 May 2000.

[7] Vaudine England, '"Shadowy" unit blamed for conflicts', South China Morning Post, 21 August 2000.

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