Subject: JP: 'Top brass won't be mired in E. Timor case'

July 19, 2004

Jakarta Post

'Top brass won't be mired in E. Timor case'

Tiarma Siboro and Abdul Khalik, Jakarta

The imprisonment of former East Timor governor Abilio Soares is maintaining the immunity of military top brass in the gross human rights violations in the former Indonesian province in 1999, a rights campaigner says.

National Commission for Missing Persons and Victim of Violence (Kontras) cofounder Munir, who participated in the investigation commission (KPP) on rights violations in East Timor, said Abilio was a mere scapegoat in a case that had put Indonesia in the international spotlight.

The KPP said in its report the former governor did not hold any authority to make policy in the country's former province ahead of the UN-sponsored ballot in 1999.

Instead, the governor was at the fourth tier after the Armed Forces (ABRI) commander, the ABRI chief of territorial affairs and the National Police.

"Abilio was just a symbol of civilian authority in East Timor at a time when all political affairs, including security measures, belonged to the Military and the police," Munir said.

According to Munir, the KPP recommended that the Attorney General's Office investigate top military officers, including then ABRI commander Gen. Wiranto, deputy Army chief Lt. Gen. Jhonny Lumintang and ABRI chief of territorial affairs Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The three were not on the list of suspects issued by state prosecutors investigating the East Timor mayhem, the first crimes against humanity to be taken to the country's human rights tribunal.

"I suggest that the prosecutors reopen the KPP recommendation and summon the former generals because they were key security figures when the East Timor atrocities occurred," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said the prosecutors could use Abilio's statement that he was not in charge of security affairs ahead of the self-determination vote as a pretext for rebuilding the cases against the top security officers.

Chairman of the Human Rights Team at the Attorney General's Office Ketut Murtika, however, dismissed Munir's suggestion, saying his team had completed its investigation into the case. The prosecutors named 18 suspects, including former Udayana military commander overseeing Bali, Nusa Tenggara and East Timor Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri and East Timor military commander Brig. Gen. Noer Muis.

"During our investigation we questioned people from the East Timor Military and police as well as local administration officials. However, they didn't say anything about Wiranto, Jhonny, or Susilo. We could not name them as suspects because we had no witnesses," Ketut told the Post.

He added that his team also found no indication of their involvement in human rights violations.

Of the six suspects convicted, four were military officers, including Adam and Muis. They are appealing to higher courts.

"We managed to prosecute the Military. They got between three and five years' imprisonment, but we can't implement that yet as final verdicts have not been delivered," said Ketut.

Violence erupted in the former Indonesian province following the Aug. 30, 1999, self-determination referendum. It was reported that hundreds of civilians were killed during the violence.

Included in the violence was an attack on Sept. 6 by pro-Jakarta militia members on a church in Suai. An inquiry team later exhumed 26 bodies believed to be victims of the attack.

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