Subject: Indon Court Acquits 4 Officials of Crimes Against Humanity in E.
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
Associated Press November 29, 2002
Four Officials Acquitted in East Timor
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - An Indonesian court on Friday acquitted two former military officials, a police chief and a government administrator, on charges of crimes against humanity during East Timor's bloody break from Indonesia in 1999.
Three of the men - army Lt. Col. Asep Kuswani, police Lt. Col. Adios Salova and district head Leonita Martins - were cleared of charges of failing to prevent pro-Jakarta militias from attacking a church in the town of Liquica on April 6, 1999, and killing at least 22 people.
The fourth man, Lt. Col. Endar Priyanto, was the army chief in East Timor's capital, Dili, when militiamen attacked the house of a prominent independence leader, killing 12 civilians. He was accused of failing to prevent that massacre.
In the latest acquittals, presiding Judge Cicut Sutiarso said that ``there was no effective command relation between the defendants and the Besi Merah Putih militia group'' that attacked the church.
Local and international human rights groups have described trials of those accused of violence in East Timor as a sham. Friday's verdict is likely to reinforce that perception.
After the latest verdicts were read, a senior military commander hugged the three defendants, who smiled widely.
So far, seven Indonesian officers have been cleared of all charges. Only two of the accused, the province's former governor and a notorious militia leader sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison, have been found guilty. Both are East Timorese civilians.
``These are mock trials,'' said Mohammad Asrun, from Judicial Watch, a group that monitors Indonesia's judiciary. ``This is a result of pressure from the military. The East Timorese are being made scapegoats for them.''
The mounting stack of not-guilty verdicts could also 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 terrorists in Southeast Asia. The Bush administration has demanded full accountability for the bloodshed before it re-engages with the military.
Priyanto, who now works in the ministry of defense, has always maintained his innocence.
``From the beginning I felt I had not any violated human rights,'' Priyanto told reporters after the verdict was read out. ``I was only doing my job in line with procedures.''
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.
Indonesia rights court acquits former Dili military chief
Indonesia's human rights court on Friday acquitted a senior Indonesian army officer of crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.
Lieutenant Colonel Endar Priyanto is the seventh army or police officer to be cleared by the court over the army-backed militia violence which broke out before and after the territory's vote to separate from Indonesia.
Prosecutors accused Priyanto of failing to prevent an attack on a refugee-packed house in Dili in April 1999 by his men and pro-Jakarta militiamen.
At least 12 people were killed in the attack at the home of pro-independence leader Manuel Carrascalao, including his 16-year-old son.
"Accusations that Lieutenant Colonel Endar Priyanto had allowed his subordinates to commit gross human rights abuses were not proven," said chief judge Amril.
"Because the defendant's subordinates (soldiers) did not take part in the attack, he cannot be held responsible," Amril said.
Priyanto said he was delighted by his acquittal.
"I'm thankful to God now that finally I have been declared innocent," he told reporters.
Prosecutors said they have yet to decide whether to appeal. They had demanded a 10-year jail term for Priyanto, the former military commander in the capital Dili who is a member of the army's Kopassus special forces.
In widely criticised verdicts, the rights court previously acquitted six officers including the former East Timor police chief.
The only people it has so far jailed are two ethnic East Timorese civilians.
Human rights lawyer Hendardi, a former defense lawyer for Xanana Gusmao who is now East Timor president, criticized the human rights court as a sham.
"The human rights court is being used by military officers to wash their hands of their crimes in East Timor. It shows that they still enjoy special privileges and are still untouchable by the arm of law," Hendardi told AFP.
The former provincial governor Abilio Soares was sentenced to three years in jail, and on Wednesday former militia leader Eurico Guterres was jailed for 10 years. Both complain they are scapegoats.
Guterres was convicted of failing to stop his militiamen attacking Carrascalao's home.
Two generals are among those still awaiting judgment from the human rights court for their alleged role in the violence. The most senior Indonesian officers have not been charged.
Pro-Indonesian local militias, who were armed and organised by the military, launched a brutal campaign of intimidation before the August 1999 vote to break away from Indonesia and a revenge campaign afterwards.
An estimated 1,000 people were killed and much of the impoverished territory was laid waste.
Ian Martin, who supervised the UN-organised independence ballot, has strongly criticised the trials and called for an international war crimes tribunal.
He said in an article published in August that the court was accepting a "mythical version" of events -- that troops and police were powerless to halt violence between pro-integration and pro-independence East Timorese factions.
In reality, Martin said, the army had created the militias which waged a campaign of terror and coercion against pro-independence leaders and supporters.
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