|Subject: US court set to open trial for
General Johny Lumintang
see Indonesia's General on Trial for more info
(Please note: Contrary to TNI assertions, General Lumintang was personally served with notice of the lawsuit in full accordance with U.S. law and legal procedures at Dulles Airport near Washington, DC, on March 30, 2000.)
US court set to open trial for Lumintang
JAKARTA - Next week a United States court in Washington D.C. will hear evidence that Indonesian General Johny Lumintang is responsible for gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.
Judge Alan Kay will preside over the hearing from Tuesday, March 27 to Thursday, March 29 at the US Federal Courthouse Washington DC Court is in session from 9:00a.m. until 5:00p.m. local time.
The proceeding will determine the amount of compensatory and punitive damages to be assessed against Lumintang, who is not expected to attend.
"Lawsuits like this one can help insure that those responsible for the 1999 devastation of East Timor are called to account, while putting future rights abusers on notice," John M. Miller of the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) said in a media release obtained by the Observer in Jakarta yesterday.
"While no substitute for an international tribunal, all available means must be used to bring justice for East Timor," added Miller, who is supporting the suit.
In 1999, Lumintang was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indonesian army. Following the August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian military systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering at least 1500 East Timorese and destroying 70-80 percent of the infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of locals were forced from their homes.
Lumintang was personally served notice of the civil suit on March 30 last year, while visiting Washington. After he failed to answer the charges, including crimes against humanity, summary execution, and torture, a judge declared Lumintang to be in default.
Meanwhile, an official with the National Defense Forces (TNI) yesterday said the in-absentia trial of Lumintang would be unfair. Head of TNI Bureau for Law Improvement Major General Timur Manurung said under US law, if the defendant is yet to receive the document, the trial does not meet formal requirement.
He said that Lumintang did not receive the trial document directly, but instead it was an official with the Indonesian Navy Attache in Washington who received it.
"If the prosecution is brought to a fair trial, the prosecutor would lose because it does not meet the formal requirement. Actually, the prosecution is not strong enough," he said.
Manurung said his office had considered sending an expert team headed by Professor Priyatna Abdulrasyid, rector of Military Law College, to the US. But a coordination with the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Defense Attache in Washington reveals that the prosecution does not meet formal requirement." So we have canceled our plan to send the team," he said.
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