Subject: JP/AP: Indonesia E Timor trials closer

Also - AP: Judges for E. Timor Trials Picked

Indonesia moves closer to East Timor rights trials The Jakarta Post - Indonesia; Feb 1, 2002

Despite strong opposition from rights activists, head of the Central Jakarta District Court Subardi swore in 11 ad hoc trial judges on Thursday for the much delayed rights tribunal.

The new judges, who are mostly law lecturers at state-owned and private universities from around the country, will join 12 career judges already appointed to the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court that will hear human rights violation cases before and after the United Nations-administered East Timor popular consultation in 1999 and the Tanjung Priok Muslim shooting incident in 1984.

"We are ready (for the trials), the judges are also ready and so are the court rooms," Subardi said after the swearing-in ceremony.

Subardi, who is also chairman of the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court, said a panel of five judges, consisting of two career judges and three non- career judges, would be assigned to each case. One of the career judges will serve as the panel head.

The human rights trial is expected to start in February, but court officials said no date had been set for the hearing to begin.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri issued Decree No. 6/2002 on Jan. 14 appointing 18 non-career judges to the rights tribunal, but it was unclear on Thursday why only 11 were sworn in. One judge resigned before he was sworn in for "failing to meet strict requirements".

Human rights activists, however, have criticized the government over inclusion of several judges who, according to them, have questionable track records. They particularly questioned the appointment of non- career judge Rudi Muhammad Rizki, a lecturer who once gave advice to a legal team representing former military commander General Wiranto in connection to earlier questioning over East Timor.

Rizki slammed suggestions he would not be impartial.

"It's too much if people say I work for Wiranto. I only met him once. I only gave academic input which was conducted in a very informal way," Rizki said after the ceremony on Thursday.

Indonesia has come under heavy pressure from donor countries and international human rights groups to bring to justice those responsible for the killings and mayhem in East Timor before and after the former Portuguese colony overwhelmingly voted to break away from Indonesia on Aug. 30, 1999.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' (UNHCHR) special rapporteur Leandro Despouy told the Megawati administration last week that the international community would closely observe the proceedings of the human rights tribunal.

He also said that his office would send international observers to monitor the proceedings and hinted that the cases would be taken to international courts if the whole process did not meet international standards.

Chief Justice Bagir Manan said after the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday that the judges would strictly follow the rules.

"I cannot guarantee that the verdict of the trial will satisfy the international community but I am confident the judges will work well," he said.

The trial is also one of the issues which is hindering a resumption of U.S.-Indonesian military cooperation.

Bagir also urged prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office to file strong cases against the 19 suspects, including three army generals, a police general and several middle-ranking officers, otherwise the outcome could be "imperfect".

A total of 36 general prosecutors, including state prosecutors, former state prosecutors and military prosecutors, have been appointed for the trial.

Meanwhile, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said on Thursday that Human Rights Law No. 26/2000, particularly Chapter 34, already guaranteed protection for witnesses in any human rights trial.

He, however, said that the government was still drafting the implementation guideline of the human rights law which was expected to be completed before the cases are brought to court.

East Timor human rights cases took place before and after the UN- mandated Aug. 30, 1999 popular vote:

- Attack on proindependence leader Manuel Carrascalao's house in Dili which killed at least 12 people on April 17

- A massacre of refugees in a church in Liquica in April

- Attack on the home of Dili bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo on Sept. 6

- A massacre in a church in Suai where at least 26 people died in September.

The Attorney General's Office has named 18 suspects, including top military and police officers.

Tanjung Priok case occurred on Sept. 12, 1984 when people clashed with military troops, leaving at least 42 people killed. The Attorney General's Office has yet to name any suspect.

Tertiani ZB Simandjutak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Judges for E. Timor Trials Picked


JAKARTA, Jan. 31 (AP) - Indonesia installed 11 judges Thursday who will oversee the much delayed trials of military officers and militiamen allegedly responsible for the destruction of East Timor in 1999.

The new justices, most of them university law professors, will join 12 career judges already appointed to the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court that will hear the cases.

The legal process against 18 suspects will be watched closely by the international community, including the United Nations and donor governments. They are demanding Indonesia punish the perpetrators of the violence that left hundreds dead after East Timor voted for independence.

The Jakarta Central District Court building has been expanded to accommodate the trials, which are expected to begin soon.

Supreme Court Justice Bagir Manan acknowledged that an international war crimes tribunal akin to those for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda was still a possibility for East Timor.

``If this court is not considered satisfactory then it will be brought to an international tribunal,'' Manan told the judges. ``The stakes are like that.''

Critics allege that the country's politically powerful military will see to it that none of its members are ever punished.

But a newly sworn-in judge was confident the trials would take place without political interference. ``We will be under close observation,'' Rudi Rizki told reporters.

Hundreds of people were killed and about 250,000 others fled their homes in a three-week rampage by the Indonesian army and its militia proxies after East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia in August 1999. The violence ended when international peacekeepers arrived.

Among those accused are Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri - who was regional military in East Timor at the time of the violence.

The trials are expected to test the strength of the ties between President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the army, which backed her takeover of power from former head of state Abdurrahman Wahid in July.

Muhammad Asrun, the head of Judicial Watch, a group that monitors Indonesia's notoriously corrupt judiciary, claimed that the military could still intimidate and bribe the justices.

``Judges here are famous for taking bribes and being susceptible to outside pressure,'' the law professor said. ``I am not hopeful of fair trials.''

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