Subject: JP: Trial of East Timor human rights cases delayed

The Jakarta Post June 13, 2001

Trial of East Timor human rights cases delayed

JAKARTA (JP): The trial of suspects in the East Timor human right violence cases will not begin within the next four months, Chief Justice Bagir Manan said on Tuesday.

"We have problems in recruiting 30 judges who have excellent capability in both national and international law ... as we know, many of the human rights violation cases have much to do with international law," Bagir said.

He made the statement in a meeting with human rights activists from Solidamor (Solidarity for East Timor) Bonar Tigor Naipospos and Tri Agus Siswowihardjo. The activists were criticizing the Supreme Court for being sluggish in the appointment of ad hoc judges to try human rights violations, particularly in East Timor, as stipulated in Law No. 26/2000 on human rights tribunals.

The law stipulates that the Supreme Court can recruit ad hoc judges from experts dealing with legal matters, such as human rights activists, criminologists, or legal-sociological experts.

The law also rules that only people within the age range 45-65 are eligible.

Bagir also said that the selected judges had to undergo certain training, including an international legal education abroad.

"Due to these phases in the recruitment process, I guess the appointment of ad hoc judges to try East Timor violence cases -- and also the Tanjung Priok human rights violation case, will be delayed for four months," Bagir said.

Bagir also complained about the lack of funds to run the recruitment process and establish the tribunal.

The special joint investigation team examining the East Timor debacle completed its investigation two months ago. The dossier, however, has yet to be handed over to the court, pending the establishment of the human rights tribunal.

Former Udayana military commander for Bali, West and East Nusa Tenggara and the former East Timor, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, and former Wiradharma regional military commanders for the former East Timor Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman and Col. A. Noer Muis have been named suspects in the case.

Bagir further said the Supreme Court had formed a joint team drawn from the Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and the Attorney General's Office to establish the tribunal. The team is expected to start working from next week.

Bonar criticized the Supreme Court for buying time in order that people would forget the cases.

"The violence in East Timor has ruined our country's image before the international world. Establishing the tribunal immediately is essential," Bonar said. (02)

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