Subject: DPA: Indonesian prosecutors appeal verdicts in East Timor cases

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Deutsche Presse-Agentur August 20, 2002

Indonesian prosecutors appeal verdicts in East Timor cases


Government prosecutors have appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn last week's controversial acquittals of six military and police officers charged with committing crimes against humanity in East Timor three years ago, an official said Tuesday.

In an apparent effort to defend the public prosecutors from a barrage of criticism, Indonesia attorney general's spokesman Barman Zahir told reporters that the state attorneys handling the human rights cases had done their utmost to punish the defendants in line with the existing laws of Indonesia's newly established ad hoc tribunal.

Last week, the human rights tribunal found a former East Timor police chief and five other military and police officers not guilty of crimes linked to the violence that swept East Timor after a 1999 referendum that established the independence of the one-time Indonesian province.

The court did sentence the former East Timor governor, the only civilian to be handed a verdict so far, to three years in jail for crimes against humanity, but the sentence was far less than the prosecution's demand for 10-and-a-half years in jail.

The not-guilty verdicts sparked an immediate outcry from human rights groups worldwide and western democracies such as the U.S.

The U.S. State Department in a statement on Monday expressed disappointment over the Indonesian human rights court's verdict, in particular to the performance of the prosecutors, whom many legal observers said had deliberately failed to build up solid cases against the defnedants.

"The United States is disappointed that prosecutors in these cases did not fully use the resources and evidence available to them from the United Nations and elsewhere," the U.S. statement said.

The statement acknowledged that Indonesia's establishment of the ad hoc tribunal had represented a bold step towards punishing the perpetrators of past atrocities.

"We strongly encourage that positive step by mounting effective and credible prosecutions of the remaining cases that meet international standards of justice and utilize the wealth of available evidence to bring to justice perpetrators of atrocities in East Timor, " it said.

The United Nations estimates that violence by pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the armed forces killed more than 1,000 Timorese in 1999.

Human rights groups have dismissed the trials as a farce because Indonesia's military leaders at the time of the Timor violence were not brought to justice. dpa sh pj

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