Subject: Indonesian Activists Lash Out at E. Timor Probe

Jakarta Post May 06, 2000

Activists lash out at E. Timor probe

JAKARTA (JP): Leading human rights groups on Friday blasted the government's tedious approach in investigating last year's violence in East Timor, saying that the investigation does not meet international standards.

The government was also reproached for its tendency to handle investigations into the violence in the territory as "ordinary crimes".

The rights groups argued that the violent clashes which erupted after the August 30 ballot in the former Indonesian province were "political crimes and crimes against humanity" and were not being well-addressed in the Indonesian Criminal Code, which has so far been the basis for the attorney general's investigation.

Leading the criticism were groups such as the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).

"By questioning the witnesses, whether they were physically present at the scene or not, has shown that the attorney general's office uses an approach similar to that of a criminal investigation," Kontras' founder, Munir, said.

He was referring to the ongoing questioning of several military and police officers who were allegedly involved in the East Timor catastrophe.

Munir said he feared this method would only incriminate soldiers and low ranking officers, while senior officers who were not "directly on the ground" would not be implicated and would remain free of prosecution.

He also said the investigation should not be "started all over again" because the findings from the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor should be admissible as "preliminary evidence".

KPP HAM implicated earlier this year former Indonesian military Gen. (ret) Wiranto and 32 other military and civilian officers in the East Timor violence

Wiranto, who has been suspended as coordinating minister for political affairs and security by President Abdurrahman Wahid pending the investigation, has denied any wrongdoing.

The attorney general's office will have three months from April to report its findings, with the possibility of a further three-month extension.

Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes M. Rahman, who leads a 64- member team of investigators, has said that some 21 military and civilian officers would be questioned in the investigation.

He said the prosecutors have yet to name any suspect but added that the status of each would be decided after the investigators return from East Timor.

Marzuki said last month the team would travel to the territory sometime this month.

Initially the investigation will focus on five cases which will be considered for prosecution.

They are: an April 17 attack on proindependence leader Manuel Carrascalao's house in Dili which killed at least 12; the Sept. 6 attack at the home of Dili Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo; a massacre of refugees in a church in Liquica in April; a massacre in a church in Suai in September where at least 26 people died; and the killing of Financial Times correspondent Sander Thoenes in the East Dili area of Becora on Sept. 21. (byg)

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