Subject: JP: Reopening East Timor cases possible, says AGO

November 10, 2004

Reopening East Timor cases possible, says AGO

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Attorney General's Office is looking into the possibility of building new cases against the military officers widely believed to have been responsible for the atrocities that occurred before and after the East Timor referendum in 1999.

Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh said on Tuesday that there was still a chance that prosecutors could build new cases and name new suspects for crimes against humanity in the former Indonesian province.

"I will study the cases first. However, there is a possibility that the cases will be reopened, and we will look at the relevant procedural law," he told reporters here.

Abdul Rahman was responding to a demand from two human rights groups, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and Imparsial, which called on his office to find new suspects for the human rights abuses in East Timor.

Kontras and Imparsial said in a joint statement that the acquittal of former East Timor governor Abilio Soares of human rights violations coincidentally opened up a new legal avenue for bringing those responsible for the bloodshed to justice.

"None of military officers were found guilty after all legal recourses had been exhausted and now the Supreme Court has acquitted Abilio. This means that no institution has been held accountable for the mayhem. This is not possible. Therefore, the prosecutors have to look for new suspects," Rachland Nashidik of Imparsial told a press briefing here.

Rachland said that they could name former military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto as the prime suspect in a new case. "Wiranto was the person named as being responsible for the human rights abuses in East Timor by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM)'s special investigation team before his name was removed from the list by then Attorney General Marzuki Darusman," he said.

He said the Komnas HAM finding and the testimony given by Soares during the human rights trials to the effect that the military was responsible for the violence in East Timor could serve as new grounds for prosecuting Wiranto.

Wiranto was the military chief and minister of defense during the mayhem in which 1,000 East Timorese civilians are believed to have been killed before and after the August 1999 UN-sponsored referendum.

Most of the violence was committed by militia groups linked to the Indonesian Military (TNI).

Wiranto was in East Timor prior to the referendum, and said he was there for the purpose of "doing everything in my power to prevent an outbreak of violence".

In recent days, Wiranto has held meetings with the President, and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo A.S., but declined to disclose what was discussed during the meetings.

Rachland said Abdul Rahman must break the cycle of impunity by initiating proceedings against Wiranto, even if that would cause problems with the President.

"The new Attorney General must prove that he is better than his predecessor in dealing with human rights violations," he said.

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