Subject: Megawati widens scope of court on East Timor

Indonesia widens scope of court on East Timor

JAKARTA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - New Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has issued a decree widening the scope of a special court to try those behind the bloodshed surrounding East Timor's 1999 vote for independence, an official said on Friday.

The decree marks one of Megawati's first and only official acts as president, and follows concern among some that her aloof leadership style will allow the military to cement its renewed influence and deal with separatists with impunity.

Foreign donors vital to Indonesia's stumbling efforts to revive its economy have also regularly chided Jakarta over its failure to account for the violence in East Timor, carried out by pro-Jakarta militias with backing from the military.

Senior Megawati aide Bambang Kesowo said the decree would allow the court -- which has yet to be established -- to hear cases for crimes committed in the months of April and September 1999. Most of the massacres were carried out in those two months.

The vote itself took place on August 30, 1999.

"The new decree stipulates that the ad hoc court's competence involves cases for human rights violations in East Timor which took place in April 1999 and September 1999," Kesowo told reporters.

While the decree is likely to be cautiously welcomed by human rights groups, Jakarta has yet to actually set up the court and has not had much success bringing those responsible for the violence, including senior military officials, closer to prosecution.

The United Nations estimates more than 1,000 people were killed by the militias in the post-ballot violence.

East Timor has been under U.N. administration since it voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia after 23 years of often brutal rule. It is expected to gain full independence in early 2002 after a general election to be held later this month.

Sacked Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid first issued a decree on the court in April, but Kesowo said that decree had created confusion over what jurisdiction the court would have.

Wahid's decree had not covered any time period before the vote. The first foreign troops sent in to restore order in East Timor after the vote arrived on September 20.

While much of the killing occurred after the August 30 ballot, two separate massacres that left scores dead took place in April 1999.

The ad hoc court will also hear cases related to a 1984 massacre of Muslim protesters near Jakarta's main port by the military.

Megawati took over from Wahid nearly two weeks ago after the top assembly sacked the Muslim cleric for incompetence.

August Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from