Subject: AP: Indonesia Army Says Tried To Stop Timor Violence

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia Army Says Tried To Stop E Timor Conflict

JAKARTA, April 18 (AP)--Indonesia's former military chief in East Timor said Thursday the army tried hard to end the violence that engulfed the territory after it voted for independence in a U.N.-sponsored referendum in August 1999.

Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman made the comments while testifying at the trial of former East Timorese Governor Abilio Soares. Soares is among 18 high ranking Indonesian officials - including three army generals - indicted in connection with the violence that swept East Timor before and after the ballot.

His comments contrast with those of U.N. officials, journalists and others who were there at the time of the violence, who say the army was responsible for much of the bloodshed. The military is also accused of arming, funding and organizing anti-independence militias that killed hundreds of people and destroyed much of the territory following the vote.

Despite international condemnation, Indonesia failed to end the violence which engulfed the territory in September, 1999. The killings stopped only when international peacekeepers arrived on Sept. 20, that year.

At the trial in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, Suratman said he worked hard to stop the violence and that security forces prevented many deaths, including those of foreigners.

"I was responsible for security ... and none of the 4,000 foreign observers were killed," he said.

U.N. officials have told Jakarta that if those responsible for the bloodshed in Timor don't face justice in Indonesian courts, an international war crimes tribunal, akin to those for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, may be held.

Rights activists are skeptical that the suspects - many of whom retain powerful and influential positions within the Indonesian bureaucracy - will see real justice.


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