Subject: JP - Abilio challenges retroactive ruling

October 23, 2004

Abilio challenges retroactive ruling

JAKARTA: Former East Timor governor Abilio Soares has challenged the constitutionality of the retroactive application of Law No. 26/2000 on human rights, on which his prosecution for rights abuses in East Timor was based.

Abilio, who was sentenced to three years in jail, said on Friday that the retroactive application of the Human Rights Law violated his constitutional rights.

"I am only using my constitutional right to defend myself," he told reporters after attending the first day's hearing of his case.

Abilio was one of 17 military, police and civilian figures who were brought to court for the bloody mayhem that broke out following the independence referendum in East Timor in 1999.

Most of the defendants, particularly military and police officers, were acquitted, with the entire process being seen by many observers as little more than a whitewash designed to absolve the military of responsibility for gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. -- JP

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