Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: JP: E. Timor Refugee Aid Case Heats Up

The Jakarta Post Thursday, January 15, 2004

East Timor Refugee Aid Case Heats Up

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

Pressure has been placed on the relevant authorities to investigate alleged irregularities in the use of Rp 53 billion (US$6.3 million) in aid for East Timorese refugees in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province.

The provincial office of the Development Finance Controller (BPKP) should move quickly to audit the financial aid, director of the province's Center for Information and People's Advocacy (PIAR) Sarah Lei Mbuik said on Tuesday.

She said that the disbursement of Rp 5 billion of Japanese aid should also be investigated. The aid was allegedly used by the Wirasakti military command to build houses for soldiers who were among the refugees.

"If the project to develop a settlement at Naibonat village in Kupang regency was managed by the Indonesian Military (TNI), the BPKP should perform an audit to ensure transparency," Sarah said.

She was responding to the Timor Express (Timex) daily's recent report, which criticized the military for its involvement in developing a settlement for East Timorese refugees.

The article, published last Friday, quoted Karel Yani Mbuik, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) for the East Nusa Tenggara chapter.

Karel in the report claimed that there had been irregularities in the project and urged the BPKP to immediately investigate the case.

Responding to the report, Wirasakti military commander Col. Moeswarno Moesanif -- whose command oversees security in Kupang -- accused the newspaper and Karel of tarnishing both his and the military's image. Last Friday, the commander filed a complaint with the Kupang Police, over what he claimed was libel .

On Monday, the Kupang Police questioned Timex's chief editor Yusak Riwu Rohi.

Yusak later criticized Moesanif's action, saying that his right to reply, and clarify the report, as stipulated by Press Law No. 40/1999 had been overlooked.

The editor's team of nine lawyers denied that the report had been an attack on the local military.

"If the local military commander said that it (the article) tarnished his good name, he must indicate which part of the article was defamatory," lawyer Marsel Radja said on Tuesday.

He urged the police to investigate the case under Press Law No. 40/1999 rather than the Criminal Code.

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