|Subject: AP: E Timor Govt, Int'l Rights
Groups Doubt Resolve To Try Timor Offenders
Received from Joyo Indonesian News
E Timor Govt To "Wait And See" On Indonesian Prosecutions
DILI, East Timor, Feb. 22 (AP) -- East Timor's leaders said Friday they will "wait and see" whether Indonesia brings to justice those responsible for the violence that left nearly a thousand dead and most of their country in ruins.
Their comments came a day after prosecutors in Jakarta charged seven senior officials with involvement in the killings of more than 100 civilians during East Timor's violent break with Indonesia in 1999.
"I am pleased with the news. It shows that some steps have been taken and we are moving forward," East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said.
"But we have to wait and see what is going to happen," he said. "Let's see whether those who are brought to trial will be given the proper sentences if found guilty."
The seven officials are among 18 suspects indicted last year for the violence that occurred before, during and after the U.N.-sponsored referendum that ended Indonesia's 24-year military occupation of East Timor. The highest-ranking officer in the group of 18, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, has not yet been formally charged.
Indonesia has been under intense pressure to bring to justice those responsible for the violence before and after the plebiscite Aug. 30, 1999. However, it is still unclear when the trial of the accused will begin.
Nearly 1,000 people were killed and most of East Timor's infrastructure destroyed by Indonesian troops and their proxy militia after voters opted for independence.
U.N. prosecutors in East Timor have separately indicted a total of 99 other suspects. Indonesia has refused to hand over dozens of suspects, saying it has no extradition treaty with the world body's interim government in East Timor.
"I hope (the Indonesian move) will signal a good start of the justice process, but I prefer to wait and see," said East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
The two leaders spoke to reporters during a tour of the USS Juneau, a U.S. Navy amphibious support ship visiting the territory.
The visit is the latest in a series of goodwill trips intended to demonstrate U.S. support for the independence of the fledgeling nation, which is due to achieve independence in May. Dozens of U.S warships have visited East Timor since 1999.
Rights groups question Indonesia's resolve to try East Timor offenders
Two international human rights groups questioned Indonesia's determination to bring offenders in East Timor to justice despite its indictment of seven suspects in the murderous army-backed militia attacks on independence supporters in 1999.
Human Rights Watch said the indictments filed Thursday for crimes against humanity are a positive development but serious questions remain. Amnesty International said Friday that "basic measures to ensure that the trials in Indonesia meet international standards of fairness are missing."
Those indicted are the former governor and police chief of the territory, a district official, three army officers from the town of Suai -- the scene of a September 1999 church massacre -- and the then-Suai police chief.
They are due to face trial in a newly established human rights court in Jakarta, along with 11 other named suspects, but no date has been set.
"Unfortunately the government's commitment to justice remains in doubt," said Sidney Jones, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
"The judges (for Jakarta's rights court) were poorly chosen, the prosecutors have shown no interest in accountability, the defence is likely to take advantage of an array of legal loopholes -- and the suspects haven't even been detained."
The law setting up the "ad hoc" rights court provided for non-career judges to be named. Human Rights Watch said many hoped that candidates with human rights expertise would be appointed.
Instead, it said, 12 "obscure academics" were chosen, "some of whom had associations with senior army officers."
The New York-based group also questioned the commitment of Attorney General M,A Rachman, saying that when he was deputy attorney general he was "obstinately unhelpful" to requests for cooperation from United Nations prosecutors in East Timor.
Human Rights Watch said a constitutional amendment passed in August 2000 bans retroactive application of laws. While crimes against humanity were considered exempt from this under international law, "it is not clear that Indonesian jurists will take that view."
The group said the international definition of crimes against humanity was improperly translated and may hinder the conviction of defendants who were not actually present at a massacre.
It criticised Jakarta's decision to restrict the court's mandate to offences in April and in September 1999, saying prosecutors may not be able to examine "the broader patterns of state policy and practice that contributed to the violence."
Amnesty said the law setting up the rights court "allows for political interference, including the role of the executive branch of the government in selecting judges and prosecutors and in deciding which cases can be prosecuted."
It raised concern at Indonesia's failure to establish a witness and victim protection program.
Amnesty said the restriction of the court's mandate to two months in 1999 and to just three districts "excludes hundreds of other cases of unlawful killing, torture, rape and other serious crimes."
It said that if Indonesian trials fail to meet international standards, prosecutions in third countries or an international criminal tribunal must be sought.
In the months surrounding East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia in August 1999, pro-Jakarta militias backed by the Indonesian military went on a bloody rampage.
They killed hundreds of people and burned towns to the ground.
Indonesia is under international pressure to bring offenders to justice. But this week it said it would refuse requests to hand over nine pro-Jakarta militiamen and eight Indonesian soldiers who have been indicted by international prosecutors in East Timor.
see also TAPOL statement
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