Subject: JP: AGO files appeals on controversial rights cases

Jakarta Post

September 17, 2002 Tuesday

AGO files appeals on controversial rights cases, JAKARTA POST

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja

In a bid to address public concern, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) has filed appeals to the Supreme Court on the controversial acquittal of six East Timor rights abuse suspects.

In a hearing with House of Representatives Commission II on legal affairs on Monday, Attorney General M.A. Rachman said that the appeals had been submitted to the Supreme Court on Sept. 4.

"We are serious about those appeals; although the public mocked us, saying that we were playing games, we are not. We are serious about dealing with these cases," Rachman said.

The acquittal verdicts against five middle-ranking officials of the police and the military and former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Sialen sparked criticism, both from here and abroad.

Local activists have blamed the Attorney General's Office for the acquittal, saying state prosecutors failed to build strong enough cases against those policemen and servicemen suspected of committing rights violations in East Timor before and after the territory voted to break away from Indonesia.

A number of international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and the Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), as well as noted East Timor figures, have even urged the UN to take over those cases and establish an international tribunal.

Outgoing UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson also floated the idea of an international tribunal to try Indonesian security personnel suspected of committing human rights violations in East Timor.

approval to materialize.

Rachman, who said that his office fully realized that the international community was upset at those verdicts, underlined that the legal process was not over yet.

An official at the prosecutor's office who is handling the cases said a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, without going through the lower court of appeal, was warranted in verdicts that acquitted defendants.

The AGO had also filed an appeal against the ad-hoc tribunal's verdict that convicted former East Timor governor Abilio Soares of human rights violations and sent him to three years in prison.

"In that case we filed an appeal to the High Court as the sentence is against Law No. 26/2000, which carries a minimum sentence of 10-years' imprisonment," Rachman said.

In addition, the AGO also filed last week an appeal to the Supreme Court against the Jakarta High Court's decision that acquitted central bank Governor Sjahril Sabirin.

Sjahril was sentenced by the Central Jakarta District Court earlier this year to 18 months in jail for his role in a Rp 904 billion (101.5 million) graft case involving Bank Bali.

The state prosecutors have also appealed to the Jakarta High Court against the Central Jakarta District Court which failed to order convicted corruptor Akbar Tandjung to serve his three years imprisonment.

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