Subject: Annan ups pressure on Jakarta

The Australian 16 Feb 2000

Annan ups pressure on Jakarta By Jakarta correspondent DON GREENLEES

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stepped up pressure yesterday on the Indonesian Government to prosecute soldiers, police and civilians accused by the national human rights commission of crimes against humanity in East Timor.

In Jakarta for two days ahead of his first visit to East Timor, Mr Annan also plans to press the Government on issues including continuing obstacles to the repatriation of refugees from West Timor.

Although the UN has welcomed the suspension of security minister General Wiranto, Mr Annan in meetings with President Abdurrahman Wahid, Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab and Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman aims to send a firm message that it is vital those accused of crimes face trial.

Mr Annan has warned the failure of Indonesia to deal adequately with demands for justice would prompt the UN to look again at establishing an international tribunal.

"I think what is important is that we have engaged in a judicial process and I am personally pleased with (the steps) the Indonesian Government has taken," he said yesterday. "We should allow the judicial process to take its course."

During talks scheduled with Mr Wahid today and Mr Shihab last night, Mr Annan was expected to raise concerns about continuing militia activity in West Timor that is hampering efforts to repatriate refugees.

Another difficult issue is the ownership of Indonesian assets in East Timor. But sources said Mr Annan was not likely to tackle this directly, leaving it to more junior officials to negotiate.

An investigating team from the Indonesian human rights commission found General Wiranto, as armed forces commander, was ultimately responsible for the violence and destruction that broke out after the announcement on September 4 of East Timor's vote for independence.

It also cited 32 others, including soldiers, police, militia and civilians. Mr Darusman is reviewing the commission's report and carrying out further investigations to build cases against those named.

The suspension of General Wiranto from the post of co-ordinating minister for security and political affairs has been seen by the UN and foreign observers as a signal of the Government's will to prosecute not only over human rights abuses in East Timor, but also in the troubled province of Aceh.

A trial of military personnel accused of abuses in Aceh is due to start soon, although one officer implicated in a massacre of 65 people in July last year, Sudjono, has gone missing.

The disappearance of Lieutenant-Colonel Sudjono, regarded as the key to prosecuting more senior and junior personnel, has led to the postponement of the trial.

A government-appointed commission has prepared 1200 pages of notes on cases of human rights abuses, intended as the basis for prosecuting soldiers. They have identified 10 cases that warrant deeper examination.

Several domestic and international commentators have stressed the significance of prosecutions over Aceh and East Timor to securing democracy in Indonesia and winding back the influence of the military.

Following Mr Wahid's decision to suspend General Wiranto, the US State Department said: "It is a significant step forward in development of democracy and the rule of law in Indonesia after decades of authoritarian rule and ignoring these key values."

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