Subject: Indonesia, East Timor extend duty term of joint truth commission

Also E. Timor-Indonesia truth commission unaffected by unrest; Officials, TNI back probe into Timor Leste abuses

Xinhua General News Service

June 30, 2006 Friday 9:30 AM EST

Indonesia, East Timor extend duty term of truth commission


Indonesia and East Timor extended the working period of the joint truth and friendship commission up to August next year, a commission member said here on Friday.

The commission would keep on questioning those linked with the documents being reviewed and not give recommendation for remission for those whom would not cooperate, said Achmad Ali.

"The two heads of states have decided to lengthen (the work of the commission) for a year," he said, referring to the meeting of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his East Timor counterpart in Bali in mid-June.

"For those who don't want to cooperate, we can not give recommendation for remission," he said.

Indonesia's former general Wiranto, who was among the 18 strong military men allegedly involved in the right abuses in East Timor before and after its independence referendum in 1999 that led to the death of thousands of people, stated that he would cooperate with the commission, said Ali.

Ali said that the commission would scrutinize four documents, namely the document of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, the document of ad-hoc Human Rights court, East Timor Team's report and the document of the Serious Crime Unit of the U.N. which used to be posted in East Timor.

International pressure mounted on Indonesia as few of the military men involved was serving in jail. Militia leader Eurico Guterres was the sole person serving jail term for his role in the right abuses.

Indonesia was asked by the international community to put them on trial within the next six months.

Indonesia and East Timor established the commission in August Last year, aiming to find the truth and strengthen friendship of the two countries. The commission comprises five members from each country.


Friday June 30, 7:55 PM

E. Timor-Indonesia truth commission unaffected by unrest

(Kyodo) _ A co-chairman of the Commission of Truth and Friendship of Indonesia and East Timor said Friday the commission will move forward and will not be affected by the current crisis in East Timor.

Dionisio Babo Soares said the resignation this week of East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will not affect the work of the commission.

Alkatiri resigned Monday, bowing to demands from President Xanana Gusmao and street protesters that he step down over months of political upheaval and violence that have claimed more than 20 lives.

"The situation in East Timor has passed its critical point, the work of the commission will not be affected by this current problem," Soares said.

The commission is aimed at "establishing a conclusive truth" to the human rights violations prior to and following the 1999 popular consultation in East Timor, in which East Timorese voted to separate from Indonesia.

The commission is scheduled to invite people implicated in the violations during the next six months and possibly hold public hearings before issuing its final report next year.


The Jakarta Post Saturday, July 1, 2006

Officials, TNI back probe into Timor Leste abuses

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Truth and Friendship Commission said Friday it received backing of Indonesian Military (TNI) and government officials to query all those allegedly involved in human rights abuses following the 1999 independence referendum.

The commission's co-chairman from Timor Leste, Dionisio Babo Soares, said that the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, defense minister, foreign minister, TNI chief, National Police chief and members of House of Representatives had all expressed their support for the commission to question former and active military and civilian officials implicated in violence in the former Indonesian province of East Timor.

"We are now in the final stage of document review. In one or two months, we will begin interviewing all people related to the case. And Indonesian ministers and lawmakers pledged their support for our work during our meeting with them," he told a press conference.

Indonesia and Timor Leste established the 10-member commission in August 2005, with the five representatives of each country charged with investigating human rights abuses committed in the tiny country. According to the United Nations, at least 1,500 people were killed by militia groups allegedly backed by the Indonesian Military.

The commission, with a mandate until August 2007 and modeled on similar restorative justice bodies set up in South Africa, Chile and Argentina, has no powers to prosecute alleged human rights violators. However, it can give recommendations to the Indonesian and Timor Leste governments to grant amnesty to people who confessed to involvement and expressed remorse, and to compensate victims and rehabilitate victims.

The commission said it reviewed all existing materials documented by the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violation in Timor Leste (KPP HAM), and the Ad-Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor, as well as reports from the Special Panels for Serious Crimes and the Commission of Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor Leste to determine the existence of human rights violations and people implicated in the acts.

The commission has identified 14 incidents of gross human rights violations that occurred in 1999 around the time East Timor voted to split from Indonesia.

A commission member from Indonesia, Achmad Ali, added that Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, the military chief during the unrest, was among the high-ranking officials who agreed to meet with the commission to explain the course of events in 1999.

The legal expert from Makassar's Hasanuddin University declined to name other former and active officers, but based on the four documents, Brig. Gen. A. Nur Muis, a former chief of the now defunct Wira Dharma military command that oversaw East Timor during the ballot, and the then chief of the Dili military command, Lt. Col. Sudjarwo, will likely be questioned.

The Indonesian Ad-Hoc Human Rights Court has tried the two officers and 16 other members of the military on human rights charges relating to East Timor. The court has never found any middle- or high-ranking military and police officers guilty of involvement in the atrocities.

The court only sentenced Eurico Guterres, former leader of the pro-Indonesia militia group Aitarak, to 10 years in prison, while former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares was sentenced to three years in prison by the Supreme Court. Eight months later he was acquitted of all charges because of new evidence.

Earlier, Gen. Fahrul Razi of the Indonesian Army provided an explanation to the commission.

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