Subject: AFP: East Timor's top prosecutor to ask appeals court for help in Wiranto warrant

East Timor's top prosecutor to ask appeals court for help in Wiranto warrant

JAKARTA Jan 22 - East Timor's top prosecutor says he will ask an appeals court for help in securing arrest warrants for Indonesian presidential candidate Wiranto and five other senior Indonesian army officers indicted for crimes against humanity.

Almost one year after prosecutors in East Timor indicted the retired general Wiranto and six other senior Indonesian officers for the 1999 violence in East Timor, judges have issued a warrant for only one of them, said Longuinhos Monteiro, the country's prosecutor general.

``Soon I will make an appeal,'' Monteiro told AFP in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Monteiro, an employee of the East Timorese administration, accused international judges working in the East Timor capital, Dili, of hindering his efforts to get the warrants.

``From my point of view the problem is with the judges,'' he said. ``I don't understand because I've been waiting for almost one year.''

Monteiro heads a staff of 11 international prosecutors in the serious crimes unit which, on February 25 last year, indicted Wiranto and the other six for murder, deportation and persecution of independence supporters before and after East Timorese voted in August 1999 to break away from Indonesia.

East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao strongly criticised the indictments. He said peace, stability and progress ``greatly depend on the relationship we will forge with the Republic of Indonesia'' and such indictments were not in the national interest.

Monteiro said the panel of judges, just one of whom is East Timorese, issued the first warrant for the key suspects only in early December.

That warrant is for Lieutenant Colonel Yayat Sudrajat, a former task force commander. Asked whether it has been forwarded to international police agency Interpol, Monteiro said: ``We are working on it.''

Forwarding the warrant means the suspect is liable to be arrested abroad.

Monteiro said the judicial panel only last week advised him that they would issue subsequent warrants one-by-one after he executes the warrant against Sudrajat.

``They didn't have any right to do so,'' he said. ``It means that they want to interfere.''

In an effort to speed up the warrants, Monteiro said he will ask an appeals court to clarify the legal basis on which the lower court set its conditions for the warrants.

A majority of judges on the appeals panel are also from abroad, said Monteiro, who accused the international prosecutors working under him of siding with the judges.

``Because they also tried to convince me to do what the judges want and I will not do it,'' he said.

Nicholas Koumjian, the deputy prosecutor general, declined to comment Thursday except to say that the international prosecutors are actively working ``to cooperate with the court to speed up the process.''

A small United Nations mission has continued to support East Timor in areas such as justice and law enforcement since the country became independent in May 2002.

Agio Pereira, Gusmao's chief of staff, told AFP that East Timor's courts are still ``in a very embryonic stage.''

Asked about the delay in the warrants, Pereira said the courts are an independent institution and as such, Gusmao does not get involved.

Wiranto headed the Indonesian armed forces during the 1999 violence.

A report from Washington last Friday said the US State Department had put Wiranto and five former military officers on a visa watchlist barring them from entering the United States.

Wiranto shrugged off the report and suggested it was linked to his candidacy in Indonesia's first direct presidential election scheduled in July. - AFP

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