Subject: AGO Stalls Timor Prosecutions: Komnas HAM

The Jakarta Post Saturday, May 21, 2005

AGO Seen as 'Stumbling Block' to Timor Truth

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) told a visiting team of United Nations experts on Friday the Attorney General's Office (AGO) was a stumbling block to the prosecution of military soldiers and police officers indicted over the 1999 violence in East Timor.

Following a closed-door meeting with the UN Commission of Experts at her office in Jakarta, Komnas HAM deputy chairwoman Zoemroetin K. Soesilo said the national rights body had recommended that 123 witnesses be summoned to testify against indicted security personnel, but many of these witnesses were never presented to the court by prosecutors.

"They asked us why some of the people believed to be responsible for the violence in the wake of East Timor's break (from Indonesia) were not processed by prosecutors," Zoemroetin said of the meeting with the UN commission.

She said Komnas HAM had no authority to intervene in the prosecution of suspected rights abusers in East Timor, which was the sole domain of the Attorney General's Office.

The rights commission, she said, was only authorized to investigate the East Timor carnage and suggest suspects for prosecution.

Asked about the difficulty of punishing suspects from the military and police, Zoemroetin said the political tug-of-war between different parties appeared to be too strong to allow justice to run its course.

The UN team is visiting Jakarta to examine the government's failure to jail military soldiers and police officers in charge of security in East Timor when pro-Indonesia militias rampaged through the territory in 1999.

The team ended its three-day inquiry in Jakarta later on Friday after holding separate talks with House of Representatives leaders and Indonesian Military chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto.

On Thursday, the experts met separately with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bagir Manan and Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh.

"At this point, we have nothing to say because we have not finished our work in Indonesia. We'll be leaving tomorrow (Saturday) and we will be considering our report before presenting it to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan," Shaista Shameem of Fiji, who heads the UN commission, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The experts visited East Timor before arriving in Jakarta.

When asked for his opinion on gross human rights abuses in East Timor during the independence vote, commission member Yozo Yokota of Japan said, "That is something that we will put in our report, which will be coming out soon."

Zoemroetin said the UN experts also asked her about Komnas HAM's activities in East Timor during its investigation into the atrocities.

During the meeting, she was accompanied by two other Komnas HAM members -- Koesparmono Irsan and Enny Suprapto.

Zoemroetin said her office would translate the findings of its investigation into English and provide the documents to the UN commission.

"As far as we are concerned, the case has been brought to court and if this information needs to be retrieved for this purpose, we are willing to do so," she said.

Zoemroetin said the UN Commission of Experts asked about the composition of the Komnas HAM team that looked into the East Timor rights violations, their activities and whether they interviewed witnesses.

The UN team also inquired about the difficulties Indonesian prosecutors appeared to encounter in finding witnesses to testify, she said.

"For one thing, to gather the information we needed, we not only visited East Timor but the Indonesian border area (in East Nusa Tenggara) as well. But it proved difficult to gain the trust of the people. The whole process was not easy," Zoemroetin said.

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