Subject: DPA: Indonesian foreign ministry anxious about slow-going military trial

Deutsche Presse-Agentur January 7, 2002

Indonesian foreign ministry anxious about slow-going military trial Jakarta

Indonesia's foreign ministry is "anxious" to see the launch of an ad hoc trial this month of military officers accused of human rights violations in East Timor in 1999, the foreign minister said on Monday.

The government's failure to expediate the trial of about 20 senior military and police officers as well as former provincial officials accused of gross human rights violations in East Timor has drawn international criticism and continues to be a stumbling block for the resumption of U.S. military assistance to Indonesia.

An ad hoc tribunal, established by Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri last year, has thrice postponed the controversial trial which was first scheduled to open last September and is now slated to commence sometime this month"

"This process has taken quite some time and we are anxious that the case will be processed this month," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told a press conference.

He attributed the delays to legal procedures, such as the setting up of a list of judges by the Supreme Court.

"The ad hoc process is underway. The team of judges has been selected, and await the president's decision," said Indonesian Attorney General M. Rachman.

"If the trial started now we would be ready with the dossiers," he told a separate press conference.

Resumption of full bilateral military ties between the United States and Indonesia hinges upon the Indonesian government's "accountability" in investigating the alleged atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999, U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Dennis Blair made clear during a visit to the country last November.

"The U.S. has insisted that there be some sort of accountability for the abuses in East Timor after the referendum of 1999," Blair then said.

The U.S. severed its military aid and joint exercises with Indonesia in the aftermath of widespread reports of widespread abuses carried out my military-backed militia groups in East Timor following its United Nations backed referendum of 1999 which was overwhelmingly in favour of getting independence from Indonesia.

Despite improved ties between the U.S. and Indonesian military (TNI) since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., a full resumption of bilateral relations between the two forces remained out of the question until the East Timor abuses have been answered for, Blair insisted.

Not one TNI officer has been brought to trial yet for the brutal slaying of hundreds of East Timorese by pro-Jakarta militias in 1999 and the senseless destruction of public property in the former Indonesian colony.

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