Subject: DPA: Joint 'truth" commission to open public hearings

also Jakarta Post: Truth commission to hear from Wiranto and Habibie

Asia-Pacific News

East Timor truth commission to open new public hearing in Indonesia

Mar 24, 2007, 7:03 GMT

dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Jakarta - A special commission set up to gather the facts surrounding Indonesia's military rampage in East Timor after it voted for independence is scheduled to open a second public hearing next week, a spokesman said Saturday.

'The public hearing is scheduled to start on Monday, we have a total of 17 people from both sides who will deliver their statements in front of the commission's panel,' commission spokesman Chalief Akbar told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The Monday public hearing will be the second of five planned for the next few months. The first was held in Bali last February.

'Bishop Belo from East Timor is scheduled to open the public hearing,' Chalief Akbar said. The public hearing itself is scheduled to last for five days.

Former Indonesian president BJ Habibie and several high ranking officers from the Indonesian military and police who were allegedly involved in the violence are scheduled to appear in front of the commission's panel.

The Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) aims to establish the truth behind the violence after East Timor voted for independence in 1999, and clarify the history of the two countries. It would also investigate the actions of local militia groups and the Indonesian military as they withdrew from the territory.

The commission has been criticized by human rights groups because it lacks the ability to prosecute senior members of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) for allegedly ordering military-backed militias to massacre Timorese civilians and to raze entire villages.

Several senior Indonesian army and police generals have been acquitted of any involvement in the violence and the Jakarta government has refused to hand over any suspects to a UN-run tribunal in East Timor, which voted for independence

General Wiranto, who was the chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces at the time, a leading suspect who has been indicted for war crimes by UN prosecutors in East Timor, is expected to appear before the commission in April.

The CTF's 10 members include legal and human rights experts, academics and religious leaders from both Indonesia and East Timor. It will submit its findings to both governments, and can recommend amnesties for perpetrators if they are found to be 'fully cooperative' with the commission.

Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975, beginning a brutal 24-year rule in which as many as 200,000 people died from military atrocities and during a low-scale guerrilla war with Timorese resistance fighters.

East Timor voters overwhelmingly chose independence from Indonesia instead of special autonomy, triggering a rampage by Indonesian soldiers and pro-Jakarta militiamen across the half-island territory.

Human rights groups say the hearings will simply perpetuate a culture of impunity for the serious crimes committed during East Timor's struggle for independence, since it was unlikely any senior military officers would be recommended for prosecution.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


March 24, 2007

Jakarta Post

Truth commission to hear from Wiranto and Habibie

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) will begin a second phase of hearings on Monday in an attempt to uncover the facts behind the deadly violence that followed the 1999 referendum in the former Indonesian province.

Unlike the first phase of hearings last month, which heard testimonies from victims of the 1999 violence, this time the commission will listen to the accounts of a number of top Indonesian decision makers at the time of the tragedy. They will include then president B.J. Habibie and then Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto.

The TNI has given the green light to the commission to interview active and retired officers alleged to have been involved in the violence and has guaranteed it will not protect soldiers proven guilty of taking part.

Commission co-chairman Benjamin Mangkoedilaga of Indonesia has confirmed that both Habibie and Wiranto will testify for the commission during the five-day hearing, which starts Monday.

He has also said that other key figures of the time, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, are due to testify.

Indonesia and Timor Leste formed the 10-member commission in 2005 amid calls to bring the perpetrators of the violence to an international tribunal. The CTF's mission is hear testimonies on the violence before and after the Aug. 30, 1999 referendum that led to the establishment of an independent Timor Leste.

A total of 1,400 people were reportedly killed and most of the country's infrastructure was destroyed in the violence, which erupted following the announcement in September 1999 of the results of the referendum.

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