Subject: JP: Criticisms of Eurico verdict

Rights abusers should be executed: East Timor leader

The Jakarta Post November 29, 2002

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Independent Indonesian legal experts lamented on Thursday the ad hoc human rights court's verdict against former pro-Jakarta militia leader Eurico Guterres, saying the sentence was too lenient for such a crime against humanity charged against him.

Ifdhal Kasim of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) said on Thursday that the panel of judges should have considered such an extraordinary crime the common enemy of people across the world.

"Giving Eurico a minimum sentence and allowing him to roam free, totally neglects the gravity of the crime," Ifdhal said.

In a statement released earlier in the day, ELSAM said the judges had again failed to set a good precedence for human rights trials in the future.

The whole process of the landmark trials for atrocities committed in East Timor had so far shown that they were unable to protect or uphold human rights violations in the country, it said.

ELSAM also regretted the fact that only civilians (of East Timorese origin) had so far been convicted in the trial. Eurico was the second defendant after former East Timor governor Abilio Soares was handed three years, while all the military and police officers tried so far were acquitted of all charges.

"The judges restricted themselves to the weak charges built by prosecutors who perceived the East Timor mayhem as a mere communal conflict. The court has allowed anyone connected to a state institution to be exonerated and cleared of any involvement," it said.

On Wednesday, the court sentenced Eurico to 10 years in jail for his role in a massacre at the home of East Timor pro-independence leader Manuel Carrascalao in Dili three years ago.

Previously, the same court sentenced Abilio to three years in jail due to his failure to stop massive killing, as well as arson attacks across the region following a vote for independence in 1999.

In a statement to the Portuguese news agency, Lusa, about the court decision, Carrascalao, whose teenage son was killed in the attack, said that human rights criminals should be given a death sentence.

"I strongly lament that criminals like these have not been executed. They killed innocents who have not done anything wrong," he said. "Those unfortunate people, like my 16-year-old son and the 17 other refugees, had not done anything wrong to anyone."

Separately, Topo Susanto of the University of Indonesia said that the implementation of the Law No. 26/1999 on Human Rights Tribunal had so far reflected the brotherhood among security personnel and the courts, instead of efforts to uphold human rights.

"Looking back to the past, the law was born under international pressure and the demand for reform. All of these, of course, made political motives dominate the whole process at the House of Representatives, but failed to provide grounds that the gross human rights violations in East Timor had a strong relation with the government policy at that time," Topo said.

He further said that any effort to review the law would be fruitless, because lawmakers and members of the judiciary in the country could not care less about the people's aspirations.

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