Subject: JP: Wiranto grilled for 7 hours over Timor violence


Jakarta Post May 17, 2000

Wiranto grilled for 7 hours over Timor violence

JAKARTA (JP): Former Indonesian Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto said he was relieved to "spell out the truth" of last year's violence in East Timor while being interrogated on Tuesday by a special Attorney General's Office investigative team.

Wiranto was questioned for nearly seven hours over his alleged role in the East Timor mayhem as the then military chief/minister of defense and security before, after and during the historic Aug. 30 ballot.

Speaking to journalists after the questioning, a coy Wiranto spoke about the questioning, which was conducted in a "relaxed" atmosphere.

Wiranto admitted that the violence which occurred was not totally unexpected but was almost unavoidable.

"It had been estimated that whichever party lost in the ballot there would be dissatisfaction and outrage at the result. I had warned the government of this critical risk given the situation in the restive area," he said.

While the destruction in East Timor following the ballot was immense, Wiranto maintained that he had largely done what was required as spelled out in the May 1999 New York Agreement which laid the grounds for the UN- supervised ballot and obliged the National Police to insure a secure climate for the ballot to take place.

"Truthfully speaking, the Indonesian government, in this case the military and police, did its job successfully in safeguarding the ballot and in taking full responsibility for the United Nations (UN) personnel's safety there."

During the questioning led by Deputy Attorney General for General Crimes M.A. Rahman, Wiranto was asked 14 questions.

"After waiting for months, I am relieved because today I have spelled out the truth," Wiranto remarked.

Wiranto is among 21 officers and officials to be summoned in the case.

This is the first time Wiranto has been summoned by the Attorney General's Office investigative team. He was previously questioned in December by an inquiry established by the government-sanctioned National Commission on Human Rights.

The inquiry's final report alleged that Wiranto and several senior officers should be held accountable for the violence in East Timor.

Wiranto is due to be questioned again on Tuesday.

Wiranto's alleged involvement resulted in his suspension in February as coordinating minister for political affairs and security.

Wiranto himself on Tuesday also confirmed that he had no intention of retaining the Cabinet post.

"After contemplating for the last four months, I've decided to leave the Cabinet for good. I will tell this to the President the first chance I get to meet him," he said reading a written statement, which he later admitted had been prepared a day before.

One of the consultants of the legal defense team employed by Wiranto and other military officers to represent them, former minister of justice Muladi, said the resignation was Wiranto's own personal decision and not taken under duress.

"He considers that this country needs a solid ministry to stabilize the political and security situation. That is the reason for his resignation," Muladi announced.

"He will become an ordinary person and will abandon his official residence and other facilities provided," he added. (01)


JAKARTA, May 17 Asia Pulse - Former armed forces (TNI) commander retired General Wiranto said Tuesday he had already warned the government over possible critical risks after it decided to give the autonomy option to East Timor .

He made the statement to reporters after he was grilled as a witness by prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office in connection with human rights violations after the pro-independence group won the UN-sponsored balloting in East Timor in 1999.

Wiranto, now made non-active coordinating minister for political and security affairs in connection with the case, said he had already predicted that any side who lost in the ballotting would be dissatisfied and turn emotional becase they had struggled and sacrificed for their cause for more than 23 years.

"Even seen from the wisest point of view one would admit that such a situation would be unavoidable," he said.

He said he had already predicted that security authorities would face various difficulties should the autonomy option be rejected by the majority of the East Timorese people because the immediate presence of the United Nations forces as having been suggested by the minister of defense/commander of the armed forces still had to face administrative obstacles.

Therefore "the minister of defense/armed forces commander has taken a maximum effort and worked seriously to assure peace and eliminate possible risks," he said.

Among the efforts was first creating truce among the conflicting parties as was signed on April 21, 1999.

The second was encouraging the two rivals to agree to hand over weapons to the security authorities which was signed in Jakarta on June 18, 1999 and the third establishing the Commission for Peace and Stability to monitor implementation of the truce involving elements from the two sides, the National Commission on Human Rights, the local bishop, the security authrorities and local administration.

"The fourth is ordering the armed forces/police to stand neutral after more than 23 years fighting separatism and the fifth changing standard of success from finding and seizing as many security disturbing gang (GPK) members as possible into assuring peace and security of the people aand of the UN personnel so that balloting could be carried out peacefully, fairly and honestly without any intimidation from any sides," he said.

The sixth was openly receiving officers, reporters and observers and even foreign tourists to show that "we have no hidden agenda."

The seventh was continuously encouraging the two rivals to turn their armed struggle into non-armed or political struggles.

The eighth was taking various strategic and tactical steps which were partially exposed in the field, he said.

Wiranto conveyed the eight ways of eliminating the critical risks in a written statement distributed at the press conference in the company of his lawyers including Buying Nasution, Yan Juanda Saputra and Hotma Sitompoel.

Wiranto asserted that the riots were not the results of balloting but were caused by pro-integrationists' disappointment over the results of the vote which they considered was due to UNAMET's unfairness.

"It was something beyond our anticipation because we believed in the capacity of the UN representatives in assuring fairness and objectivity," Wiranto said.

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