Subject: WP/Jakarta: First Officer Convicted for E. Timor Crimes [+Guardian;
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
The Washington Post December 28, 2002
First Officer Convicted for E. Timor
Indonesian Lt. Col. Gets 5 Years for Not Stopping Killings
By Ellen Nakashima Washington Post Foreign Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Dec. 27 -- An Indonesian human rights court today sentenced an Indonesian army officer to five years in prison for failing to prevent killings in East Timor following its 1999 independence vote -- the first Indonesian military official convicted in the violence.
Lt. Col. Soedjarwo was found guilty of failing to prevent pro-Jakarta militiamen from attacking Roman Catholic archbishop Carlos Ximenes Belo's seaside home, which became a haven for East Timorese seeking shelter from militia violence surrounding the U.N.-sponsored referendum.
"The defendant has been found guilty of committing grave human rights violations," said Andi Samsan Nganro, chairman of the five-judge panel that issued the verdict.
Soedjarwo, who headed the military command in the East Timor capital, Dili, at the time of the violence, said through his attorney that he is innocent of the charges and will appeal.
Prosecutors had sought 10 years for Soedjarwo, who could have been sentenced to death. But the sentence reflected the fact that "he did his best to stop the violence," Nganro said.
However, Nganro said, "by the time he tried to stop it, it was already way too late."
An estimated 15 to 20 people were killed in the attack on Belo's home on Sept. 6, 1999, according to human rights groups and a court official. Belo had been flown to a safe location by police helicopter and eventually to Australia, a court official said. The court had hoped that Belo, who is ailing and has announced his resignation as archbishop, would testify by video link earlier this month. Instead, the judges relied on his written testimony.
Democracy activists called the surprise verdict a step in the right direction, noting the previous record of acquittals of 10 security officials, including six military officers, who had been indicted on charges stemming from the East Timor violence.
"It's a good sign because never before has any Indonesian officer received any sentence for failure to prevent killings such as in East Timor," said Helmy Fauzi, who led the National Commission on Human Rights investigation into the East Timor violence, which the United Nations estimated killed more than 1,000 civilians.
At the same time, they said, the sentence was far too lenient. "It's not enough," Fauzi said. "Not enough to restore credibility in the eyes of the international community or to restore hopes in the Indonesia society itself that we are able to handle our problem."
But Nganro called the verdict "fair." He acknowledged the criticisms, but said, "since the very beginning, we've never had any intention of pleasing a certain group of people. We're committed to paying great respect to human rights."
The United States suspended military aid to Indonesia because of the East Timor violence, and the Bush administration has said it wants to see Indonesia hold the military accountable for its actions.
Soedjarwo is one of 18 people charged; his is the third conviction -- the other two were civilians.
Indonesian officer guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor
By John Aglionby in Jakarta
Indonesia's special tribunal on the 1999 violence in East Timor convicted a member of its security forces for the first time yesterday when it found the former commander of the army garrison in the capital Dili guilty of crimes against humanity.
Lieutenant-Colonel Soedjarwo was sentenced to five years in jail for failing to prevent two killing sprees by military-backed militias in Dili on September 6, a week after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to end 24 years of repressive Indonesian occupation.
One of the rampages was against the home of the territory's then spiritual leader, Bishop Carlos Belo, where hundreds of refugees had gathered.
At least 15 people are thought to have been killed when much of the compound was destroyed.
Soedjarwo said he would appeal and was not immediately jailed. "I reject the verdict," he said. "This trial is not fair. I feel like I'm being sacrificed. I did the best I could to provide security."
The decision surprised diplomats and judicial observers because in previous trials 10 Indonesian military and police officers were acquitted and only the two indicted East Timorese, the former civilian governor and a notorious militia leader, were convicted.
These trials and verdicts left the tribunal's reputation in tat ters and provoked accusations of deliberate incompetence and blatant political interference. The trials of five defendants, including two junior generals, are continuing.
Diplomats and human rights activists had little positive to say about yesterday's judgment, particularly because Soedjarwo could have been sentenced to death for his crimes.
Mohammad Asrun, from Judicial Watch, a group which monitors the Indonesian judiciary, condemned the sentence as completely inadequate.
"It is useless to say that he had committed grave human rights violations and then only give him such a light sentence," he said.
Hendardi, the head of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, said the verdict was "illogical".
"I think (Soedjarwo) is only for international consumption because there has been much criticism from the international community about the military acquittals," he said.
The international organisation Human Rights Watch issued a scathing report last week which described the tribunal as "a whitewash".
It urged the United Nations, which gave Indonesia the opportunity to hold accountable the perpetrators of nine months of violence which left more than 1,000 people dead, to commission a report examining the failure of the ad hoc court.
The United Nations has declined to comment officially on the tribunal, saying that it wants to wait until all 18 trials are finished before passing judgment.
Indonesian officer convicted for East Timor abuses
By SHAWN DONNAN and TAUFAN HIDAYAT
SYDNEY and JAKARTA
An Indonesian court yesterday sentenced a military officer to five years in jail for crimes against humanity in East Timor - the first time an Indonesian security official has been convicted in connection with the 1999 violence in the newly independent nation.
Lieutenant Colonel Sujarwo - who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name - was convicted of failing to prevent September 1999 attacks on the residence and office of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, the Nobel laureate, in which at least 15 people were killed. He was granted bail while his appeal to a higher court is heard.
The conviction of the former commander of the Indonesian military in Dili, the East Timorese capital, was almost immediately seen as a reaction to criticism of other recent rulings by the court.
The court's decisions are being watched closely because they could have an impact on the restoration of US-Indonesia military ties, which were suspended in 1999 as a result of the Indonesian military's actions in East Timor.
Nearly 2,000 people were believed killed during the violence in September 1999 following a vote for independence by the East Timorese. The bloodshed is widely believed to have been engineered by the Indonesian military and pro-Jakarta militia groups directed by the military.
Of the 18 facing charges before the human rights court, 10 have been cleared so far. Before Lt Col Sujarwo, only a former governor of the province and a well-known militia leader, Eurico Gutteres, had been convicted. Both are civilians and East Timorese.
That has led to criticism from human rights activists of the court, which was set up by the government to deflect international pressure and calls for a United Nations-run tribunal. And those activists remained sceptical yesterday that the verdict marked any great change in direction by the court.
"This is a result of public pressure on the court," said Bambang Widjojanto, a prominent human rights lawyer, referring to growing international criticism of the court. But, he added: "It's too early to say that the human rights court has made good progress. If there are a hundred cases of human rights violations then we cannot say it is progress if only one case is treated differently."
Moreover, Mr Widjojanto said, even Lt Col Sujarwo's light sentence - half the 10 years asked for by prosecutors - could be overturned on appeal.
UN prosecutors in East Timor, which gained its independence in May, have also issued indictments related to murders committed during the 1999 violence. In a number of cases the suspects indicted live openly in Indonesia but Jakarta has refused to hand them over to authorities in the former Portuguese colony. Additional reporting by Taufan Hidayat in Jakarta For regional reports.
Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/