Subject: Questioning on E. Timor mayhem to go on: Marzuki

Jakarta Post December 11, 2000

Questioning on E. Timor mayhem to go on: Marzuki

JAKARTA (JP): Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said on Sunday that his office, together with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), will resume efforts to question 22 witnesses in connection with violence in East Timor last year, despite opposition from their lawyers.

Marzuki said that his office will again summon the witnesses who initially failed to appear at the Attorney General's Office last week and asserted that UNTAET's involvement was not a violation of Indonesia's sovereignty.

"There is an essential misunderstanding about the questioning, that is unnecessary, and which has been blown up out of proportion by the team of lawyers representing the military and police officers who have been summoned as witnesses," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday afternoon by telephone.

Lawyers for the 22 witnesses had questioned the right of the UNTAET to question their clients despite the existence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which permits such action.

On Friday, the lawyers said that the MOU was not binding and cannot serve as a legal ground for questioning.

Marzuki pointed out that the lawyers themselves had also invoked articles within the MOU during a visit to East Timor earlier this year.

"The lawyers themselves had used the facility served by the memorandum of understanding between the government and UNTAET to visit East Timor for their own investigation. In this case, they gave a misleading defense by claiming that we turned in their clients to UN investigators," Marzuki said.

Marzuki assumed that the military and police superiors were not aware of the real situation and progress involving their lower-ranking personnel in the case and that they had been given inaccurate information which was "raised in a wrongful manner".

"Tomorrow (Monday) I will have a meeting with the coordinating minister for political, social and security affairs, the military and police chiefs to straighten the matter," he added while noting that the questioning is likely to proceed smoothly if there is cooperation from military and police superiors.

The deadline for the five-day questioning falls on Wednesday.

Questioning will be conducted directly by Indonesian investigators with questions from material provided by the UN investigators.

The result will be used for UN investigations over human rights abuses in the former Indonesian province.

Marzuki said his office will again summon the witnesses and give them more time for preparation.

"I assume they have failed to appear because the summons was too sudden. This time we will give them some more time," he said. (bby)

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