Subject: Three Indonesian generals named as Timor suspects, key names missing

Three Indonesian generals named as Timor suspects, key names missing

JAKARTA, Sept 1 (AFP) - Investigators on Friday formally named 19 people, including three Indonesian generals, as "provisional suspects" in the violence that ravaged East Timor after its independence vote last year.

But the glaring absence of top names from the list drew charges of 'whitewash' from rights activists, and the United Nations chief administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, called it only "the beginning" of efforts to put on trial those responsible for the violence.

Missing from the list were Indonesia's armed forces chief at the time, General Wiranto, and of the most notorious militia leaders, including Eurico Guerres, the leader of the feared Aitrak 'Thorn' militia.

Wiranto was named in an earlier rights enquiry as "morally responsible" for the violence.

Said de Mello: "It is a very good beginning, but only a beginning" and a sign that "the glass is half full."

Topping the list, announced at a press conference, was Major General Adam Damiri, formerly head of the Bali-based Udayana military command which had responsibility for East Timor.

Also named were Brigadier General Tono Suratman, Indonesian army commander in East Timor until three weeks before the August 30, 1999 vote, his replacement Colonel Noer Muis, and then-Timor police chief General Timbul Salaen, chief Timor investigator Muhammad Abdul Rachman said.

Damiri, a two-star general, is the highest-ranking general on the list.

Three police lieutnenant-colonels were named, as well as former Dili governor Abilio Soares, three little-known pro-Indonesia militia leaders and the mayors of Liquisa and Covalima towns.

The wave of violence, arson and murder launched by Indonesian-backed militias following the September 4 announcement of the overwhelming 78.5 percent vote for independence in East Timor left more than 600 dead and its infrastructure in ruins.

Before the arrival of a UN-sanctioned international force sent to quell the violence, more than 200,000 East Timorese who had not fled to the hills were forced out at gunpoint to Indonesian controlled West Timor.

Friday's list fell far short of the 33 names recommended for investigation by Indonesia's Human Rights Commission.

De Mello, in Jakarta for talks with President Abdurrahman Wahid, senior ministers and top military officers, said neither the Attorney General Marzuki Darusman nor the Indonesian government should be blamed "if all the names are not there yet."

"It is true its always difficult to fill the glass in the first announcement," he told reporters as he emerged from the talks.

"For us the glass is half full and will continue to be filled. That was clearly the message Marzuki gave me when I met with him yesterday."

"We have medium to senior level names on that list. More will follow I understand," de Mello said.

He said he disagreed with suggestions the Indonesian investigation had been insufficient.

"We need to move from the bottom up. The same happened in Rwanda, the same happened in the former Yugoslavia," he said.

But Indonesia's Legal Aid and Human Rights Association said the people "most responsible" for rights violations in East Timor had been left off the list.

"This list shows that the legal process has in fact become into a tool for those most responsible to avoid prosecution," the Association said in a statement.

Human rights lawyer Johnson Panjaitan said the 78-member investigation team who came up with the list after four months of inquiries had been compromised by the presence of police and military representatives on the team.

"They were deeply influenced, they didn't have the courage to name people who should take most responsibility, like the top armed forces commanders," Panjaitan told AFP.

Defence lawyers for the Indonesian military men named said they were in a meeting Friday afternoon discussing the announcement, and might issue a statement later.

Indonesia has been under intense international pressure to hold trials for crimes committed in East Timor, since a UN inquiry earlier this year concluded that army personnel were directly involved in the violence.

During a recent visit Jakarta, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson reiterated that the UN would call an international war crimes tribunal if Jakarta failed to bring the perpetrators of the Timor violence to trial.

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