Subject: AGE: Adam Damiri: A soldier's record


Prosecutor demands court clears general

June 6 2003 By Telly Nathalia Jakarta

An Indonesian prosecutor yesterday demanded a court acquit a top general on trial over violence in East Timor in 1999, saying it had not been proved that he was guilty of committing crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors had been expected to announce their sentencing demands for Major-General Adam Damiri yesterday.

But in a surprise move, and insisting he had not been pressured, prosecutor S. Hozie asked the court to rule "the defendant had not been proven guilty of crimes against humanity" in East Timor when it voted to break from Jakarta's rule.

The chief judge said the court would reconvene on July 1 to hear a statement from General Damiri before passing judgement.

Mr Hozie later said the demand did not mean prosecutors had dropped the charges against General Damiri, the regional military chief with responsibility for East Timor during its independence vote in August, 1999.

He did not explain the difference between that and demanding General Damiri be declared not guilty.

General Damiri is the last of 18 suspects on trial over the violence. The majority have been acquitted, drawing harsh criticism from international and local human rights groups.

When he went on trial last July, prosecutors told the special human rights court he was guilty of crimes against humanity for not taking proper action to prevent violence.

East Timor was left in ruins after the UN-organised ballot triggered a killing rampage and wave of destruction by militias backed by the Indonesian military.

The United Nations, which ran East Timor after the vote until formal independence, estimates more than 1000 people were killed. General Damiri has denied any involvement.

Wearing military battledress and with a number of regular troops and special forces soldiers in the court, General Damiri wept when Mr Hozie said he should be declared not guilty.

Referring to one incident, an attack on the home of East Timorese bishop and Nobel Peace laureate Carlos Belo, Mr Hozie said there had been no military involvement.

The court hearing should have been held weeks ago but had been snubbed a number of times by General Damiri.

The human rights court - set up to hear cases over the East Timor violence in the wake of international pressure on Jakarta - has convicted two civilians, both of them East Timorese, and three security officers. All are free pending appeal.

The trial is the latest test of the judiciary's independence in a country where the military wields considerable clout.

Rights groups say other elements of the trial process are farcical, including the failure to try General Wiranto, Indonesia's military commander at the time of the violence.

• Days before East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will pay his first official visit to Jakarta, prosecutors in Dili yesterday announced they would try an Indonesian national for crimes against humanity.

Beni Ludji, deputy commander of the Aitarak militia group, will be the first Indonesian to face trial in East Timor before a special UN-backed court judging war crimes committed during the 1999 referendum.

He was formally charged with the murder of independence campaigner Guido Alves Correia as a crime against humanity. Correia was hacked to death in September 1999.

- Reuters, Jill Jolliffe

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Adam Damiri: A soldier's record

June 6 2003

Major-General Adam Damiri was commander of the Bali-based military area, which included East Timor.

- He is believed to have co-ordinated Operation Clean Sweep in January 1999 aimed at killing pro-independence activists.

- It is likely that General Damiri was central to training, funding and arming anti-independence militias.

- He held many meetings with militia leaders, clandestinely and openly, in East Timor and Bali throughout 1999. He described the militias as "patriotic organisations".

- Militia leader Eurico Guterres boasted to journalists that he took his orders directly from General Damiri.

- On April 17, 1999, he was present at a militia rally in Dili at which Guterres urged his followers to "capture and kill" independence supporters - 12 were subsequently murdered.

- On July 1, 2002, General Damiri was indicted for crimes against humanity in relation to massacres in Liquica, the Dili homes of Isaac Leandros and Manuel Carrascalaos, the Dili Catholic diocese office, Bishop Carlos Belos's residence and the Suai church.

- In February this year he was charged in absentia with crimes against humanity before the Dili special panel.

- In December 1999, General Damiri was promoted to operational assistant to the armed forces chief of staff in Jakarta. He was responsible for troop movements to Aceh.

- He is currently serving in Aceh, where the army has launched a renewed campaign to crush the independence movement. Source: Masters of Terror: Indonesia's Military and Violence in East Timor in 1999 (Australian National University, Canberra, 2002)

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