Subject: Indon's Defence Minister says Wiranto may not get fair trial

Channel News Asia [Singapore] March 5, 2000

Indonesia's Defence Minister says Wiranto may not get fair trial

In an interview with Channel News Asia, Indonesia's Defence Minister Professor Juwono Sudarsono said there is a less than 50 percent chance that the disgraced former Army Chief General Wiranto will get a fair trial.

He also described the violence in East Timor as revenge killings between tribal groups.

From Jakarta, our Indonesia Correspondent Haseenah Koyakutty reports.

Former Army Chief General Wiranto has been giving his side of the story and was said to have even bought air-time on a private TV channel to do so.

He was in parliament last week to defend his East Timor policy.

His close aides said General Wiranto felt he has to defend himself because nobody else could do the job as well.

The Defence minister says the political climate is so oriented towards a pre-judicial decision, its a no-win situation for General Wiranto.

Professor Juwono said: "Let's wait what the Attorney General will do. If he's formally charged, then he'll be tried within the next three months.

If he's discharged, this will be the test. If he's not formally charged, then some people will be accusing the Attorney General of being biased, of being unfair.

You see that's the dilemma. Public opinon including the media has been so against the military, against General Wiranto, against the whole Indonesian position over East Timor that it is very difficult now to get a fair trial.
I think it's a bit unlucky for General Wiranto, he was probably the right person at the wrong time at the wrong place."

"It's very difficult for a national or even an international tribunal not to want to charge him formally with the verdict of being guilty, that's the dilemma. It's like the O J Simpson case you know or the Diallo case in New York, so much bias is built into the system that its very difficult to get a fair, political environment that will lead to fair and political trial," he added.

Prof Juwono says the military has not been exerting pressure on the Attorney General's office which has recently formed its own team to investigate human rights abuses in East Timor.

The investigations will be based on a report by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission which named General Wiranto as one of more than 30 officers culpable for the violence.

The military maintains the violence was a domestic dispute.

The Defence Minister added: "I don't think anyone could have done anything to stop the revenge killings and hatred that has developed over these tribal groups for the past 15 months. Over the past 15 years they have killed each other and the enmity was enormous."

On Monday, the Defence Minister will speak on the recent military reshuffle and the military's relationship with President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The US Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth who will be visiting Indonesia after Singapore this week said Indonesia is on its way towards asserting civilian supremacy.

He added that the world will be watching to see if Indonesia punishes those behind the East Timor fiasco last year.

Wiranto is finished, with no chance of comeback': Juwono

Straits Times Feb 29, 2000

Wiranto is finished, with no chance of comeback: Juwono

Even if no charges are brought against him, he is as good as guilty in eyes of public, says Defence Minister


FORMER military strongman Wiranto is finished politically and is unlikely to ever play a dominant role in politics here, Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono said in an interview.

He said General Wiranto -- suspended this month from the post of Coordinating Security Minister -- did not have the legitimacy to mount a comeback even if the Attorney-General's Office did not press charges against him over the East Timor debacle.

"Technically, he can return to the Cabinet if the government cannot find anything against him," he told The Straits Times. "But... there is a less-than-50 per cent chance of his returning. In the minds of the public, he is guilty."

A government-sanctioned inquiry implicated Gen Wiranto and 32 military and civilian officials for being responsible for the bloodshed and destruction in East Timor after residents voted in August to separate from Indonesia.

Pressure has been building up since then to prosecute those responsible, and Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman has indicated that he will determine, within two or three weeks, who should stand trial.

Dr Juwono said if the general escaped charges, there would be some concern that Mr Marzuki's office had given in to "pressure from the military".

"So it will just be convenient for some people to keep him out for good. Unfortunately for Wiranto, he has become a victim of circumstances."

But some of Gen Wiranto's supporters refuse to accept that the man who played a critical role in Indonesia's political transformation after President Suharto resigned is finished, and argue it is wrong to suggest that national opinion is against him.

"The views of the intellectual elite in Jakarta are not reflective of what the silent majority in the country thinks. Increasingly, a lot are beginning to see Pak Wiranto as being oppressed by the President in a plot to consolidate his grip on power," an aide said.

But senior government officials believe that it is difficult for Gen Wiranto to seize the initiative and turn to other sources of power.

Dr Juwono said that aside from international pressure, especially from the United States, political players here would see the general as a "liability".

Major parties in the ruling coalition would also not accept him, he added.

Gen Wiranto might gravitate towards Islamic-based groups, as he was doing now, but these would also want to keep a distance when they calculate the political risks involved.

Analysts also say that Gen Wiranto could no longer turn to the Indonesian defence forces (TNI) -- whose political influence is waning -- for direct political backing given the emasculation of his power base in the army by President Abdurrahman Wahid.

But some in the military argue that by getting rid of Gen Wiranto and his supporters, Mr Abdurrahman could be undermining his own position over time.

Said a key army general: "Not many officers are crying over Wiranto's dismissal and they are not going to step into the fray to champion his cause. But the President's continued intervention in military affairs is breeding resentment.

"The Wiranto saga is the tip of the iceberg. We perceive it as a larger attack on all of us."

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