Subject: AP: Indon Military Officer Gets 5 Yrs For E. Timor Crimes

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Indonesia Military Officer Gets 5 Yrs For E Timor Crimes

JAKARTA, Dec. 27 (AP)--A court Friday sentenced a senior military commander to five years imprisonment for human rights violations during East Timor's break from Jakarta in 1999, the first time an Indonesian security official has been convicted over the violence.

Lt. Col. Soejarwo, who headed the military command in the East Timorese capital Dili, was found guilty of failing to prevent pro-Jakarta militias attacking the Dili Diocese and the house of Bishop Ximenes Belo on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6. At least 15 people were killed in the attacks.

"The defendant has been found guilty of committing grave human rights violations," said Judge Andi Samsam Nganro when handing down the sentence.

Soejarwo, who goes by a single name, immediately said he would appeal the verdict - something that allows him to stay free until the Supreme Court rules on his case.

He is one of 18 officials charged over the violence. Ten of them have been cleared of all charges, prompting local and international human rights groups to describe the trials as a sham.

He the is first Indonesian military official to be convicted.

Earlier trials found East Timor's former provincial governor and a notorious militia leader guilty. They were sentenced to three and 10 years respectively. Both are East Timorese natives.

Soejarwo said nothing to reporters when he left the courthouse.

Prosecutors had demanded a 10-year sentence. Under Indonesian law, he could have been sentenced to death.

Up until Friday's verdict, observers had predicted that all the military defendants would be acquitted, saying powerful commanders would never allow their men to be jailed.

The outcomes of the trials could complicate Washington's drive to renew ties with the Indonesian military, which were cut to protest the East Timor violence.

Cooperation with security forces in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, is considered essential in the campaign against terrorism in Southeast Asia. The Bush administration has demanded full accountability for the bloodshed before it reengages with the military.

Nearly 2,000 civilians were believed killed and 250,000 forced to flee their homes when Indonesian troops and their militia proxies launched a campaign of terror before and after an independence referendum.

East Timor gained full independence in May, after a period of transitional rule by the United Nations following Indonesia's brutal 24-year occupation.

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