Subject: AFP/JP: Wiranto testifies

also: JP: East Timor trial resumes, Wiranto testifies; UN in Timor "incredulous" at Wiranto's vote charge

"Mission impossible" for Indonesian troops in Timor: ex-army chief

JAKARTA, April 4 (AFP) - Indonesian forces were given a "mission impossible" in East Timor in 1999, the powerful former military chief said Thursday, defending them against charges they condoned atrocities.

General Wiranto, (eds: one name), in a rare public appearance since he was ousted in 2000, spent three hours testifying to a human rights court, hearing cases of crimes against humanity involving pro-Jakarta militias and Indonesian officials in East Timor.

"Indonesian security forces had an extraordinarily difficult mission -- I call it Mission Impossible," Wiranto told the court.

"After 23 years of conflict between pro-integration groups (with Indonesia) and those against integration, in one month we had to unite them and to consider pro-independence groups as brothers and sisters."

Then president B.J. Habibie, in a shock decision, authorised the United Nations to hold a referendum on August 30, 1999 in which East Timorese chose autonomy or independence. Some 80 percent chose independence.

"I told the president at the time that if the autonomy option was rejected I suggested security be handed over to the United Nations and Indonesia become part of it (the UN mission)," Wiranto told the court in answer to questions from judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

International troops eventually arrived three weeks after the vote to halt the bloodshed.

Wiranto made it clear he thought the holding of the ballot involved a great risk, saying most East Timorese were poorly educated and were asked to make a choice they did not understand.

"Whichever side lost, they will become emotional but the cabinet decision was final, I thought that this option carried a big risk but the president told me that this was a political decision and it must be carried out."

The former general said troops and police deserved praise for enabling the vote to be held "without a major war."

He said there were no major incidents of violence between the voter registration and the ballot itself. "I'm proud of my soldiers and my subordinates there."

Wiranto was not asked about widespread international accusations that the Indonesian military and Jakarta officials actually organised and directed the militia violence.

Human rights officials say he should be before the court as a defendant rather than a witness since he has moral responsibility, at least, for the bloodshed.

A total of 18 military, police, militia and civilian officials are due eventually to face trial in the rights court over the attacks by pro-Jakarta militias against independence supporters in April and September 1999.

Wiranto was testifying in the trial of former East Timor police chief Timbul Silaen, who is accused of gross human rights abuses by ignoring the massacre of scores of people by his subordinates. The charges are punishable by between 10 years' jail and death.

Also in court was former East Timor governor Abilio Soares, who faces similar charges but whose case was heard separately.

Judges rejected arguments by Soares' lawyers that their tribunal was illegal because Indonesia's human rights law was only passed in 2000 while crimes in East Timor took place a year earlier, breaching the constitutional ban on retroactive laws.

The defence also said the law did not incorporate East Timor as part of the court's jurisdiction.

The judges, taking turns to read their ruling, said Soares' trial should go ahead.

"Crimes against humanity are extraordinary crimes and punishment for the perpetrators should not be limited by time and space," it said, mentioning the post-war trials of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and the Rwanda tribunal.

The hearing was adjourned until April 11.

Militiamen organised by senior Jakarta officials waged a campaign of intimidation before East Timor's independence vote, and a "scorched earth" revenge campaign afterwards.

Jakarta has come under strong international pressure to punish the atrocities but international rights groups are sceptical that the rights court will deliver justice.


The Jakarta Post [online] April 4, 2002

East Timor trial resumes, Wiranto testifies

JAKARTA (JP): The trial against two former East Timor officials charged with human rights violations for culpability in the violence following the East Timor's breakaway from Indonesia in 1999 resumed on Wednesday as judges decided to continue thetrial.

Defense lawyers for former East Timor governor Abilio Soares and the territory's former police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen had previously argued that the ad hoc trial was legally and technically flawed with regard to a retroactive law.

The defense lawyers referred to Article 28 of the amended 1945 Constitution, which ruled out any retroactive principle. "The country's legal code does not recognize the retroactive principle," defense statement has said.

The panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court, however, decided on Thursday that the trial would proceed and that the next agenda was to hear witness ccounts, SCTV reported.

Among the witnesses questioned on Thursday were former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and former Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri.

Outside the court, hundreds of people staged a protest to denounce the trials as "an international conspiracy, especially by Australia". The protesters, from the group the Defenders ofthe Nation, staged street theater and sang patriotic songs.

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

UN in Timor "incredulous" at Wiranto's vote charge

JAKARTA, April 5 (Reuters) - The U.N. authority in East Timor said on Friday it was "incredulous" at reported remarks by former Indonesian military chief Wiranto that bloodshed there in 1999 was allegedly sparked by an unfair independence ballot.

Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the U.N. administration in East Timor, urged Wiranto to show more regret at the actions of pro-Jakarta militias who, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, went on a killing spree after the territory voted to break from Indonesian rule.

On Thursday, Wiranto pointed the finger at the U.N. for the rampages after giving testimony to a Jakarta court trying suspects over the carnage. The U.N. organised the August 1999 ballot.

"If the reports of what Wiranto said are in fact true, it's simply incredulous that a man who was the overall commander of security in East Timor at that time is willing to blame the ballot for the total and systematic destruction of East Timor and ignore his own failings of leadership," Reis said.

"I would expect more humility and regret rather than reaching for cheap and patently false excuses," she told Reuters by telephone from the East Timor capital Dili.

Some Indonesian officials have long muttered about U.N. bias during the August 1999 vote, although then-Foreign Minister Ali Alatas soon after pronounced the ballot generally fair.

The U.N. has insisted the vote was fair. It has also estimated more than 1,000 people were killed before and after the ballot.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Wiranto said:

"There is a burning question, why did chaos break out? Sadly there was one trigger which we did not count on -- unfairness in implementation of the ballot."

Wiranto did not name the United Nations directly.

He was military chief when the machete-wielding militias rampaged after the vote result was announced. The run-up was also marred by violence, most blamed on the militias.

Indonesia opened its first trials into the Timor violence at the special human rights court on March 14, but Wiranto's absence from a list of 18 suspects was slammed by rights groups and added to scepticism that Jakarta will bring those responsible for the bloodshed to book.

In early 2000, an Indonesian commission of inquiry linked Wiranto to the East Timor chaos and included him in a list of 33 names submitted to the attorney-general for investigation.

Wiranto has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday praised those under Received from Joyo Indonesian News

UN in Timor "incredulous" at Wiranto's vote charge

JAKARTA, April 5 (Reuters) - The U.N. authority in East Timor said on Friday it was "incredulous" at reported remarks by former Indonesian military chief Wiranto that bloodshed there in 1999 was allegedly sparked by an unfair independence ballot.

Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the U.N. administration in East Timor, urged Wiranto to show more regret at the actions of pro-Jakarta militias who, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, went on a killing spree after the territory voted to break from Indonesian rule.

On Thursday, Wiranto pointed the finger at the U.N. for the rampages after giving testimony to a Jakarta court trying suspects over the carnage. The U.N. organised the August 1999 ballot.

"If the reports of what Wiranto said are in fact true, it's simply incredulous that a man who was the overall commander of security in East Timor at that time is willing to blame the ballot for the total and systematic destruction of East Timor and ignore his own failings of leadership," Reis said.

"I would expect more humility and regret rather than reaching for cheap and patently false excuses," she told Reuters by telephone from the East Timor capital Dili.

Some Indonesian officials have long muttered about U.N. bias during the August 1999 vote, although then-Foreign Minister Ali Alatas soon after pronounced the ballot generally fair.

The U.N. has insisted the vote was fair. It has also estimated more than 1,000 people were killed before and after the ballot.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Wiranto said:

"There is a burning question, why did chaos break out? Sadly there was one trigger which we did not count on -- unfairness in implementation of the ballot."

Wiranto did not name the United Nations directly.

He was military chief when the machete-wielding militias rampaged after the vote result was announced. The run-up was also marred by violence, most blamed on the militias.

Indonesia opened its first trials into the Timor violence at the special human rights court on March 14, but Wiranto's absence from a list of 18 suspects was slammed by rights groups and added to scepticism that Jakarta will bring those responsible for the bloodshed to book.

In early 2000, an Indonesian commission of inquiry linked Wiranto to the East Timor chaos and included him in a list of 33 names submitted to the attorney-general for investigation.

Wiranto has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday praised those under his command at the time in East Timor.

East Timor will formally declare independence on May 20. 


Received from Joyo Indonesian News

UN in Timor "incredulous" at Wiranto's vote charge

JAKARTA, April 5 (Reuters) - The U.N. authority in East Timor said on Friday it was "incredulous" at reported remarks by former Indonesian military chief Wiranto that bloodshed there in 1999 was allegedly sparked by an unfair independence ballot.

Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the U.N. administration in East Timor, urged Wiranto to show more regret at the actions of pro-Jakarta militias who, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, went on a killing spree after the territory voted to break from Indonesian rule.

On Thursday, Wiranto pointed the finger at the U.N. for the rampages after giving testimony to a Jakarta court trying suspects over the carnage. The U.N. organised the August 1999 ballot.

"If the reports of what Wiranto said are in fact true, it's simply incredulous that a man who was the overall commander of security in East Timor at that time is willing to blame the ballot for the total and systematic destruction of East Timor and ignore his own failings of leadership," Reis said.

"I would expect more humility and regret rather than reaching for cheap and patently false excuses," she told Reuters by telephone from the East Timor capital Dili.

Some Indonesian officials have long muttered about U.N. bias during the August 1999 vote, although then-Foreign Minister Ali Alatas soon after pronounced the ballot generally fair.

The U.N. has insisted the vote was fair. It has also estimated more than 1,000 people were killed before and after the ballot.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Wiranto said:

"There is a burning question, why did chaos break out? Sadly there was one trigger which we did not count on -- unfairness in implementation of the ballot."

Wiranto did not name the United Nations directly.

He was military chief when the machete-wielding militias rampaged after the vote result was announced. The run-up was also marred by violence, most blamed on the militias.

Indonesia opened its first trials into the Timor violence at the special human rights court on March 14, but Wiranto's absence from a list of 18 suspects was slammed by rights groups and added to scepticism that Jakarta will bring those responsible for the bloodshed to book.

In early 2000, an Indonesian commission of inquiry linked Wiranto to the East Timor chaos and included him in a list of 33 names submitted to the attorney-general for investigation.

Wiranto has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday praised those under his command at the time in East Timor.

East Timor will formally declare independence on May 20.


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