Subject: AP: Ex E Timor Governor Blasts Indon Court Ruling
Ex E Timor Governor Blasts Indonesian Supreme Court Ruling
JAKARTA, April 16 (AP)--East Timor's last Indonesian-appointed governor Friday denounced a Supreme Court ruling convicting him for the 1999 bloodshed there, saying he was a scapegoat for army generals who escaped punishment.
Earlier this month, the high court upheld a three-year sentence against Jose Abilio Osorio Soares for failing to prevent the murderous rampage by Indonesia's military and pro-Jakarta militias after East Timor voted to secede in 1999 from Indonesia following 24 years of military occupation. Up to 2,000 people died and much of East Timor was destroyed.
"I have been made a scapegoat and sacrificed to save the Indonesian military," Soares told reporters in Jakarta. "Justice in this republic is only for the powerful and those with money."
Soares - who is ethnic East Timorese - is the first Indonesian official to be punished for the bloodshed.
Three others - all Indonesian military officers - have had their sentences overturned by the high court in recent weeks. Rulings against two remaining defendants are expected soon. Twelve others have already been acquitted.
U.N. officials and other human rights groups have blamed Indonesian security forces for the mayhem, which only ended with the arrival of international peacekeepers.
Soares, who has repeatedly said he had nothing to do with the violence, claimed the court decision was timed to coincide with the coming presidential elections, in which Gen. Wiranto, who was Indonesia's military chief in 1999, is running.
Critics have alleged that Jakarta's pledge to punish those responsible is a farce, and only civilians or East Timorese militiamen - lacking the backing of Indonesia's powerful military brass - will be punished.
As a result, international rights groups have called on the United Nations to convene an international tribunal to try those responsible.
"If I can not find justice in this country, I will seek justice in the international courts in The Hague," Soares said. He did not elaborate.
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