Subject: KY: Wiranto to resign from Wahid's cabinet

Wiranto to resign from Wahid's cabinet

Kyodo News By Sugianto Tandra

JAKARTA, May 16 -- (EDS: UPDATING WITH DEVELOPMENTS) Former Indonesian military chief Gen. Wiranto announced Tuesday he would resign from his post as cabinet minister after he was questioned by Indonesian prosecutors about his role in the violence in East Timor last year. 

Wiranto, who was suspended in February as coordinating minister for political affairs and security by President Abdurrahman Wahid, was questioned for seven hours on Tuesday. The retired general said in a prepared statement that his resignation from the cabinet "has nothing to do" with the East Timor issue. "To help the performance of the cabinet that has been disturbed since my suspension...I decided to resign," he said. 

Wiranto's suspension was formally announced Feb. 14 after an independent human rights panel probing East Timor atrocities implicated him in human rights abuses that occurred in the territory following a U.N.-organized referendum for independence held last August. At the time, Wiranto was defense minister in the cabinet of then President B.J. Habibie. 

At least five generals were accused of committing "crimes by omission" for failing to prevent atrocities committed by militia gangs, allegedly backed by the military. In his statement Tuesday, Wiranto said last year's violence was sparked by dissatisfied pro-Indonesia East Timorese who felt deceived by the U.N. mission that organized the ballot. "It (the violence) was due to a certain political group, the defeated one especially, that was not satisfied with the process (of the ballot)," he said. 

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, Yushar Yahya, told journalists that prosecutors questioned Wiranto on his duties as a defense minister, former military chief and commands he allegedly made to his subordinates regarding security on East Timor . Wiranto's lawyer, Adnan Buyung Nasution, described the questioning as general, adding that prosecutors want Wiranto back for another round of interviews next Tuesday. Wiranto was the 21st person questioned as a "witness" by a panel of prosecutors that has been given until July to complete its investigation and issue indictments. East Timor descended into chaos, leaving almost the whole territory devastated and hundreds killed, when Indonesian soldiers and militia gangs rampaged following defeat the referendum, which separate the territory from Indonesian rule.

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