Subject: JP: Indon judges for rights trial appeals appointed

The Jakarta Post August 29, 2002

Judges for rights trial appeals appointed

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Chief Justice Bagir Manan has appointed four career judges for the ad hoc human rights tribunal to handle appeals in the cases of alleged perpetrators of the violence and destruction in East Timor in 1999.

Bagir said the four would be Supreme Court judges Sukirno, Artidjo Alkostar, Margana and Arbiyoto.

"They will work together with non-career judges, who will be appointed by the House of Representatives. I have sent a letter to the House to speed up the selection process for non-career judges," he told reporters after a judicial workshop here on Thursday.

Supreme Court judge Benyamin Mangkoedilaga said the four were appointed on Wednesday.

"We will have a total of 10 judges for the appeals court. The other six non-career judges will be selected by the House," Bagir said.

Under Law No. 26/2000 on human rights courts, each appeal is to be handled by two career and three non-career judges and it must be decided within 90 days of the appeal application.

Separately, chairman of House Commission II Teras Narang said the House would complete the selection of six non-career judges for the human rights appeal court by the end of next month.

State prosecutors filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in response to the verdicts recently handed down by the tribunal acquitting six military and police officers charged with crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

Thousands of military-backed militias went on a bloody rampage after East Timor's population overwhelmingly voted to break away from Indonesia in a United Nations-sponsored vote in 1999, killing hundreds of civilians and destroying some 80 percent of the infrastructure in the former Portuguese colony.

They also forced close to 250,000 East Timorese into West Timor and other surrounding islands.

A total of 18 military and police personnel as well as senior civilian authorities and militia leaders have been brought to court, including three Army generals, seven of whom have been acquitted, and the others are still awaiting their verdicts.

The court sentenced former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares to three years in jail, well below the 10-and-a-half-year minimum sentence.

Both Abilio and the state prosecutors have reportedly filed their respective appeals over the verdicts.

Abilio and the security officers were initially charged with human rights abuses after it was alleged that their subordinates carried out systematic killing, torture, destruction and forced relocation. However, during the trials the prosecutors and defense attorneys have focused on the apparent inability of the officers to stop what was claimed to be factional fighting among Timorese groups.

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