Military-Mega deal 'behind' delay of ad hoc trial
Received from Joyo Indonesian News
The Jakarta Post Monday, January 7, 2002
Military-Mega deal 'behind' delay of ad hoc trial
Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Critics have urged the government of Megawati Soekarnoputri to speed up the ad hoc trial of military officers accused of human rights violations in East Timor in 1999 and Tanjungpriok, Jakarta, in 1984.
Failure to expedite the trial could spark speculation that the government has deliberately dragged its heels in dealing with the military officers.
Last March, Megawati established an ad hoc tribunal but, so far, nothing has happened because the President has yet to give her approval of judges to preside over the cases.
The names of 30 judges have been submitted; however, the President has repeatedly delayed signing off on their installation. This has baffled not only the public, but also the justices of the Supreme Court who recommended the prospective judges to handle the case.
Similarly, the government has promised that the trial will begin Jan. 15. But this date is now in question, as there has been no indication of when Megawati will make her selections.
Initially, government officials planned to open the trial in September but, due to technical reasons, the date was pushed back to November. Then a December date was announced only to be moved up again to this month.
Human rights activists have voiced fears that the delays are the price that President Megawati must pay as part of a political deal with the military in exchange for its support for her government.
"We believe (Megawati and military) have compromised the matter," said Ori Rachman, coordinator of the Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
The lack of transparency in the recruitment of the ad hoc judges itself has posed a big question for the activists.
Ori, for example, wonders why the non-career judges are being considered -- selected from a pool of experts at human rights study centers at major state universities -- without full explanation to the public.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has further revealed that 33 people were killed in the 1984 Tanjungpriok incident when security forces fired on protesters demanding the release of their colleagues.
The charges of crimes against humanity in East Timor were leveled in the wake of violence sparked by a UN-organized referendum on East Timorese independence from Indonesia. Militias, backed and financed by the military, went on a spree of killing and destruction in the former Portuguese colony.
The high profile case implicated top Indonesian military leaders, including Gen. Wiranto, the former Indonesian Military chief.
Worried about the future of the tribunal, the executive director of the Human Rights and Legal Aid Association (PBHI), Hendardi, also believes the "Megawati-military conspiracy" theory because the President owed the old military forces their support.
"I am certain there is political deal" between Megawati and the military, Hendardi said.
Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, chairman of the team preparing the ad hoc trial on East Timor, said he had selected 17 career judges. "They will team up with non-career judges," he told the Jakarta Post over the weekend.
Supreme Court Secretary Sartono says he is also puzzled by the delay. He noted that he has not heard from the President since he submitted the list of judges in November.
"The there has been no response," he told the Post.
JAKARTA, Jan 7 (AFP) - Indonesia may further postpone the trials of military and police officers accused of slaughter and forced deportations in East Timor in 1999, officials indicated Monday.
The trials were scheduled to begin in a new ad-hoc human rights court on January 15, Supreme Court chief Bagir Manan said last month.
However the government has yet to approve a list of 30 judges nominated to sit on the court, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said.
"A list of judges has been presented by the Supreme Court to the cabinet. Discussions are still in process. We hope the appointment of judges will be settled," Wirayuda told a press briefing Monday.
"We ourselves are anxious for the first case to (have begun) by this month so we'll see," he replied when asked when the trials would begin.
Attorney General Muhammad Abdurachman said state prosecutors were ready and waiting for the special human rights court to begin.
"In this matter our general prosecutors are ready. As soon as the court opens we will present the cases," he told a media conference.
Wirayuda said preparations were under way, including the training of prosecutors.
"I myself have participated in the training of potential prosecutors," said the minister, who studied law in the United States.
The Supreme Court judge heading the preparations for the East Timor trials, Benjamin Mangkudilaga, told the Jakarta Post that he had selected 17 career judges who "will team up with non-career judges."
Of the 23 suspects originally named in a probe into East Timor crimes by the Attorney General's Office, only 19 are being brought to trial.
One suspect, an anti-independence militia leader, was killed shortly after being named and another three militiamen suspects have proved too hard to locate, prosecutors have said.
Among the 19 to go on trial are four army and police generals, the former governor of East Timor, three former district police chiefs, two former mayors in the territory and six middle-ranking soldiers.
Indonesia's Human Rights Commission had originally recommended that 33 people including the then-armed forces chief, General Wiranto, be put on trial for the crimes.
In the months surrounding East Timor's August 1999 vote for independence pro-Jakarta militia, backed by the Indonesian military, went on a bloody rampage.
They killed hundreds of people, burned towns to the ground, destroyed 80 percent of the half-island's infrastructure and forced or led more than a quarter of a million villagers into Indonesian-ruled West Timor.
More than two years on, Indonesia has prosecuted no one for the crimes.
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