Subject: AP: UN Team Urges Arrest Of Ex-Military Chief Wiranto

UN Team Urges Arrest Of Indonesia's Ex-Military Chief

DILI, East Timor, March 22 (AP)--U.N. prosecutors Tuesday urged East Timor's legal authorities to issue an international arrest warrant for Indonesia's former military supremo, saying he was responsible for war crimes committed by Indonesian forces in their former province in 1999.

Gen. Wiranto, who commanded Indonesia's military during East Timor's violence-wracked secession in 1999, plans to run in Indonesia's presidential elections in July. He was indicted in February 2003 in East Timor in connection with the violence, but court officials have yet to issue an international warrant for his arrest.

Wiranto - who resides in Indonesia - has denied the accusations against him, saying they are part of a conspiracy to undermine his presidential bid.

Indonesian authorities have also said they would not hand over Wiranto or other officers accused of East Timor war crimes, even if there were an international arrest warrant. But if such a warrant were issued, it would mean Wiranto could not travel to a third country without risking extradition.

Nicholas Koumjian, a top U.N. prosecutor at the Special Court for Serious Crimes in Dili, said in a statement Tuesday that Wiranto should be held responsible for the 1999 bloodshed.

"The evidence we have given to the court proves that Wiranto failed in his responsibilities as the ultimate commander of all army and police forces in East Timor to prevent the commission of crimes against humanity and failed to punish the perpetrators," he said.

Nearly 2,000 people died and much of the territory was devastated by Indonesian troops and their militia proxies before and after a U.N.-organized independence referendum that ended a quarter-century of Indonesian military occupation. The court has been established to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence.

Although East Timor gained full independence in 2002 after a period of U.N. transitional rule, prosecutors from the world body are still investigating the events of 1999 as part of a Serious Crimes Unit that has filed hundreds of charges against Indonesian soldiers and militiamen.

Wiranto is the most senior official accused in any of the indictments issued by the prosecutors.

"I am confident that the arrest warrant will be issued," Koumjian said.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, just after the former Portuguese colony had declared independence. About 150,000 people - a quarter of the population - died in the subsequent war waged by pro-independence rebels against Indonesia's iron-fisted rule.

-Edited by Sarah C. de Mesa


Support ETAN, make a secure financial contribution at etan.org/etan/donate.htm

Back to March menu
February

World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu