Subject: House to support bill on rights court

Jakarta Post June 17, 2000

House to support bill on rights court

JAKARTA (JP): House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung confidently asserted on Friday that the House would endorse a bill establishing a human rights court on July 20.

Akbar made the comment during a meeting with a team of lawyers representing military and police officers in the East Timor investigation. The team was led by former Minister of Justice Muladi.

The team said it wanted to make sure that the bill would be passed soon so that a decision on their clients, alleged to be responsible for violence in East Timor, could be processed quickly.

"We don't want the case to be suspended. We want the case to be brought to the human rights court," Muladi remarked.

He said the East Timor case which has been investigated for almost five months, according to the government regulation in lieu of statute No. 1/1999 should be suspended if it's investigation reaches six months, which in this case is the end of July.

Muladi said the team did not want the case to be suspended to avoid international suspicion that it was unreasonably halted.

"We also urge the House to avoid international pressure influencing the case or the would-be trial," Muladi, who also held the post of Minister/State Secretary under former President B.J. Habibie, said.

The National Inquiry of Human Rights Abuses in East Timor has named several high ranking military and police officers as being responsible for human rights violations that occurred during the violence following the ballot in East Timor last year.

House deputy speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno supported the team's view that there should not be undue international grounds to attack Indonesians on the matter.

Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra submitted the bill to the House on June 6.

"The bill will have no time limit (on its jurisdiction). It can be used to try human rights abuses that occurred in the past," Yusril told the House's plenary session.


In a separate development, the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) on Friday said a team from the Indonesian Attorney General's Office would be arriving in Dili early July.

The purpose of the visit is to question witnesses and collect material evidence.

The visit was agreed following a meeting between UNTAET's legal and political representatives and its Indonesian counterparts in Jakarta last week.

The Indonesian team would not number more than 15 persons and will stay in Dili for approximately 10 days.

It was also agreed that UNTAET investigators alone would question witnesses in a number of selected priority cases.

UNTAET estimates that it will take at least three weeks to locate witnesses, question them and translate these interviews into Bahasa Indonesia.

The results would then be handed over to the Indonesian Attorney General's Office. The process of identifying witnesses started on Sunday.

If necessary the Attorney General's Office team can follow up with further questioning when it visits East Timor.

However it will be UNTAET who will conduct the questioning in the presence of an observer from the Attorney General's team. (jun)

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