Subject: Guardian & FT: UN Seeks Arrest of Indonesia Presidential Candidate

also: FT: UN Seeks Arrest of Indonesia Presidential Candidate

The Guardian Tuesday May 11, 2004

UN Issues Warrant for Indonesian General

John Aglionby in Jakarta

A UN tribunal issued an arrest warrant yesterday against Indonesia's former military commander General Wiranto for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in East Timor five years ago.

Mr Wiranto is accused of the murder of 1,400 civilians and the forcible deportation of 200,000 people, who left East Timor in a crackdown after the territory's vote to end 23 years of Indonesian occupation and the persecution of the population at large.

Prosecutors said all countries had an obligation to detain the retired general, who is now one of the favourites in Indonesia's July 5 presidential election. Interpol is expected to issue an international arrest warrant within weeks.

But despite pressure from the international community, Indonesia said it would not respect the warrant because it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Mr Wiranto, who denies any wrongdoing, laughed off the UN move as a political stunt to discredit his political ambitions. Analysts say they are not optimistic Mr Wiranto will ever face prosecution due to Indonesia's opposition, and neighbouring countries' reluctance to antagonise Jakarta. The general is not expected to risk being seized by visiting potentially hostile countries.

Judge Philip Rapoza, a member of East Timor's special panels for serious crimes, said in the 20-page warrant: "There are reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant Wiranto, as a superior officer, bears command responsibility for the criminal actions of the military forces ... police and pro-autonomy militia under his authority."

A tribunal prosecutor, Nicholas Koumjian, said the warrant was issued after the submission of 15,000 pages of evidence, including the statements of 1,500 witnesses.

"Wiranto, as commander of all the Indonesian armed forces, knew widespread and systematic attacks were taking place in East Timor," he said. "He failed to take any or reasonable measures to prevent the crimes or punish the perpetrators."

Mr Wiranto is one of more than 380 people indicted by the UN-run Serious Crimes Unit in Dili. Of those, about 50 have been convicted, mostly East Timorese militiamen unable to flee to Indonesia.

Indonesia's East Timor tribunal was roundly condemned internationally as a whitewash. The only guilty verdict upheld on appeal is in the case of the East Timorese civilian governor. The Wiranto warrant paints a different picture. It details how the military and their militia cohorts targeted pro-independence supporters first for persecution and then death.

"The killings involved both shootings and other forms of murder, including stabbings, slashings, beheadings and hacking victims to death," the warrant states. "The murders were often performed after the victim had been tortured, mutilated, raped or brutalised in some other manner."

Much of the violence occurred after the result of the referendum, in which 78% of voters opted for independence.

Mr Koumjian said Mr Wiranto winning the presidency would not suspend the warrant's validity.

"There's no immunity for heads of state for crimes against humanity," he said.

Indonesia's foreign ministry spokesman, Marty Natelagawa, said the government was "not particularly troubled" about the warrant. "We don't recognise the jurisdiction of that particular panel in Indonesia so it's not anything of relevance to Indonesia."

It is uncertain what the impact of the warrant will be on Mr Wiranto's presidential chances.

"This is a legal process and my legal team are already taking steps to face it," he told reporters.

"I've never been declared a suspect in Indonesia, it's all just rumours. But it's strange that this emerged once I became a presidential candidate."

David Cohen of the Berkley War Crimes Studies Centre, who has followed events in East Timor closely, said: "I'm not terribly optimistic he will face trial.

"An international arrest warrant will make his life harder but there are people in his position who have escaped prosecution for years and if he's free to move around the region this might not be too much of a bother for him."


Financial Times [UK] May 11, 2004

UN Seeks Arrest of Indonesia Presidential Candidate

By Shawn Donnan in Jakarta

A UN-backed court in East Timor yesterday issued an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity against Wiranto, former defence minister and now leading Indonesian presidential candidate, setting the stage for widespread international condemnation should he be elected.

Gen Wiranto, candidate for the Golkar party of former dictator Suharto in the July 5 polls, was chief of Indonesia's armed forces and defence minister during a 1999 vote for independence in East Timor. While he served in those roles, more than 1,400 people were killed after a bloody rampage led by the military and pro-Jakarta militias.

The former Suharto confidant has long denied any wrongdoing. Yesterday he repeated a claim that the UN prosecutors who indicted him in February 2003 were politically motivated, a claim prosecutors denied.

A spokesman for the Indonesian government also said Jakarta did not recognise the jurisdiction of the court that issued the warrant.

However, in the 20-page warrant, Judge Phillip Rapoza, an American serving on a special UN-backed panel, found there were "reasonable grounds" to believe Gen Wiranto had "command authority" over the security forces and pro-Jakarta militias during "a widespread and systematic attack" against civilian victims, including former FT correspondent Sander Thoenes.

Judge Rapoza wrote that Gen Wiranto kept a close eye on operations in East Timor through daily reports.

The judge also documented repeated meetings between Gen Wiranto and pro-Jakarta militia leaders.

At one meeting in Jakarta, Judge Rapoza wrote: "Wiranto urged visiting leaders of various militia groups to unite in a common front and gave each of the Timorese large sums of cash."

At another, a key aide had promised to supply militia leaders with machine guns.

The arrest warrant came as Gen Wiranto prepared to announce formally today that he has recruited the deputy chairman of Indonesia's human rights commission to be his running mate, in what is seen as an effort to clean up a tainted human rights record.

Besides the crimes in East Timor, Gen Wiranto has been linked by activists to the violent suppression of student demonstrations in 1998 and other abuses within Indonesia.

Salahuddin Wahid, his new running mate and the younger brother of former president Abdurrahman Wahid, said in an interview with the FT last week that he believed standing with Gen Wiranto posed a "conflict of interest" because of their different human rights backgrounds.

However, Mr Wahid added that he had to "consider issues other than human rights". Additional reporting by Taufan Hidayat

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