Subject: SMH: Judge's Wiranto link raises eyebrows

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Sydney Morning Herald January 29, 2002

Judge's Wiranto link raises eyebrows

By Lindsay Murdoch, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

An Australian-educated Indonesian lawyer has been appointed to a special court to judge crimes committed in East Timor in 1999 despite having represented the former armed forces chief General Wiranto in a national human rights commission inquiry.

But the lawyer, Rudi Rizki, said his academic and legal background would ensure he served impartially and independently on the long-delayed court, which some human rights activists have criticised before its first sitting.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission is stepping up pressure on the Government in Jakarta to ensure the court meets international standards when judging 18 suspects, including three generals and the former Jakarta-appointed governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares.

The commission's president, Leandro Despouy, said the court proceedings would be closely monitored by international observers and that "people must be judged by national law, but this must also conform to international law".

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, also called on Indonesia to fulfil an earlier promise to hand over suspects and evidence to UN officials in East Timor so they can pursue separate trials of those accused of atrocities.

The United States has indicated it will link the conduct of the prosecutions over atrocities in East Timor to the resumption of arms sales to Indonesia.

The outcome of the trials could also affect future aid pledges from other countries.

Mr Rizki said he believed that intense public scrutiny, particularly from overseas, and the integrity of the judges would ensure that military officers and other accused would be prosecuted diligently.

"This court must be able to reach the most responsible persons, not only the low ranks or field executors," said Mr Rizki, one of 18 non-career judges approved by President Megawati Sukarnoputri to sit on the court, which is scheduled to convene within days.

Mr Rizki said he played a passive role in a legal team that represented General Wiranto after a National Human Rights Commission inquiry accused him of human rights crimes in East Timor in 1999. He also worked in a team appointed by the Attorney-General to study the commission's inquiry that two years ago accused 116 people of being involved in crimes during Indonesia's bloody retribution over East Timor's vote for independence.

Human rights activists have criticised the Attorney-General's office for failing to include General Wiranto and other prominent soldiers and militiamen among those who will face prosecution in the court's first sittings.

General Wiranto said he feared that the special court would be biased and manipulated.

General Wiranto led Indonesian forces when military-backed militia engaged in a campaign of post-ballot violence and destruction in East Timor. Now retired but still active in Indonesian politics, he said he fears the special court will be biased and manipulated.

Activists and several leading Jakarta lawyers have expressed concern over secrecy surrounding the appointment of judges to the court, their relative inexperience, lack of specific training, and the low pay they will receive, which is the equivalent of $US100 ($194) a month plus $US450 for each case they hear.

Among the cases scheduled to be heard by the court are church massacres in the East Timor towns of Liquica and Suai.

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