Subject: JP: UN barred from grilling TNI troops

The Jakarta Post December 13, 2000

UN barred from grilling TNI troops

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Widodo A.S. said here on Tuesday that Jakarta would not allow its troops to be questioned by UN investigators over last year's violence in East Timor.

"With regard to due process of law, no TNI officer will be questioned by UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor)," Widodo told reporters after meeting President Abdurrahman Wahid at Merdeka Palace.

"The government's stance on this is clear -- we reject any foreign intervention in the process -- we have our own procedures and legal system," he said.

But Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that TNI's objection to the questioning was "being discussed" with the Attorney General's Office and the National Police.

"There is an ongoing consultation between the Attorney General, the TNI chief and the police chief, we'll see what result they produce," he told journalists after meeting with Abdurrahman late on Tuesday.

Lawyers representing the military and police officers implicated in the East Timor violence rejected last week the planned questioning of their clients by UNTAET investigators saying that it was beyond their jurisdiction.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman has repeatedly said, however, that UNTAET representatives would only attend the questioning and the inquiry would be conducted by Indonesian prosecutors.

He also said that the questioning was based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Attorney General's Office and UNTAET last April.

On Tuesday, Marzuki again tried to allay the fears of the lawyers, saying their allegations that UNTAET had the power to arrest suspects or even bring them before an international tribunal were "fictitious."

"We have a commitment that all charges of human rights violations in East Timor will be prosecuted under Indonesian law."

He said either the lawyers did not understand the MoU -- which needed further explanation -- or they were "deliberately creating problems."

Earlier in the day, a former pro-integration spokesman, Basilio Dias Araujo, became the first witness to appear at the Attorney General's Office.

Basilio said, however, that he only went to ask for a postponement of the questioning and a guarantee that he would not be handed over to the United Nations.

Araujo's lawyer, Suhardi Somomoeljono, said his client would refuse to be questioned until the Attorney General's Office guaranteed that no former East Timor militiamen or civil servants would be handed over to the UN.

Earlier on Monday, UNTAET filed the first dossiers containing charges of crimes against humanity committed by Indonesian troops and pro-integration militias during last year's violence in East Timor.

In a press statement made available to the media on Tuesday, the UN said the dossiers accused eleven suspects of a total of 13 murders committed in the East Timor town of Los Palos between April 21 and Sept. 25, 1999.

According to the statement, one of the suspects is an officer of the Army's elite Special Forces (Kopassus), Lt. Sayful Anwar. He was accused of mutilating, torturing and murdering Averisto Lopez on April 21, 1999 at the base of a pro-Jakarta militia group, Team Alfa.

Of the eleven accused, nine have been detained in prisons in East Timor, including Team Alfa's de facto commander Joni Marques, the statement said.

It said that one of the militiamen, Mautersa Moniz, is still at large.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, UNTAET said in a statement that it "deplored" the assault by pro-Jakarta East Timorese on its senior officials at the House of Representatives (DPR) building on Monday.

The statement said UNTAET and the government of Indonesia had exchanged "diplomatic Note Verbales" on Monday regarding the incident.

"UNTAET underlined that the security was clearly inadequate and requested the Indonesian authorities to take stern action against the perpetrators of this attack and ensure that this type of incident is not repeated," the statement said.

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