Subject: 4 Reports: Wiranto denies E.Timor violations, but some army may have been involved

4 Reports:

- Indonesia's ex-army chief denies Timor violations

- No gross violation of rights in ETimor: Indonesian ex-military chief

- Former top Indonesian general denies blame for E. Timor violence

- Some of Indon army may have been involved in ETimor

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Indonesia's ex-army chief denies Timor violations

By Ahmad Pathoni

JAKARTA, May 5 (Reuters) - Charges that Indonesian troops committed gross rights violation during East Timor's 1999 vote for independence were "senseless and crazy", the country's military chief at the time told a truth commission on Saturday.

Retired general Wiranto's remarks were made before the Commission of Truth and Friendship, set up by Indonesia and East Timor to delve into what happened during the independence vote in August 1999.

Wiranto was armed forces commander and defence minister at the time of the vote. Rights groups say he was at least morally responsible for the mayhem and should face justice.

Wiranto has always denied this, saying he did his best to stop the violence.

"It is clear that there was no policy to attack civilians, there were no systematic plans, no genocide or crimes against humanity. Neither was there an act of omission," Wiranto said.

He said the violence before and after the vote was due to years of hostility between pro-Indonesian groups and independence supporters, as well as conflicts dating back to the Portuguese colonial era.

The United Nations estimates that about 1,000 East Timorese died during the post-vote mayhem, which was blamed largely on pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the Indonesian army.

Indonesian officials say only about 100 people were killed.

Wiranto said Jakarta had made a great sacrifice to allow East Timor to vote on whether to break away from Indonesia and security forces were not well prepared to cope.

"It was extremely difficult for Indonesian security forces to guarantee a peaceful and successful referendum with only three months of preparation," said Wiranto, dressed in a dark suit.

"But what have we received? No praise, no appreciation or gratitude, but accusations that Indonesia committed crimes. This is senseless and crazy," he said.

'NO EVIL AGENDA'

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 at the end of Portuguese rule and annexed the territory later that year, maintaining a heavy and sometimes harsh military presence.

Wiranto denied that the military had funded, trained and armed pro-Jakarta militia groups who went on a deadly rampage.

"If we had an evil agenda to scuttle the referendum, there would not have been a referendum and there would not have been an independent East Timor," Wiranto said.

East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesian rule but some pro-Jakarta voters and officials argued that the referendum had been rigged by the United Nations, although independent observers concluded the ballot was largely fair.

Wiranto, who stood unsuccessfully in Indonesia's 2004 presidential poll and is set to run again in 2009, said he tried to reconcile conflicting camps by initiating a peace pact between pro-Indonesian groups and independence supporters in May 1999.

At the hearing he screened a video showing him making an impassioned plea for peace to Timorese groups at the signing of the peace pact, attended by the country's two bishops.

He also denied that troops forcibly moved hundreds of thousands of East Timorese to Indonesia's West Timor and engaged in a scorched earth campaign.

"For many people who supported Indonesia, they did not see a future after independence. They had to leave and they burned their own houses because they did not want them to fall into the hands of those whom they considered their enemies," he said.

The truth commission has no power to punish those responsible or recommend prosecution. Militia leader Eurico Guterres, the only person jailed in Indonesia for the violence, is serving a 10-year sentence.

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No gross violation of rights in ETimor: Indonesian ex-military chief

JAKARTA, May 5 (AFP) -- A former Indonesian military chief Saturday denied that gross violations of human rights were committed in East Timor ahead of the tiny nation's vote for independence.

"The ad hoc human rights court has spent time and energy and it was clearly proven that there were no gross violations of human rights," General Wiranto said during a hearing in front of the Indonesia-East Timor commission.

An Indonesian rights court set up to try military officers and officials for atrocities in East Timor was widely condemned as a sham for failing to jail any Indonesians.

Violence erupted in the half-island nation in 1999 around a UN-administered referendum at which East Timor chose independence following 24 years of occupation by neighbouring Indonesia.

Wiranto, who headed the Indonesian armed forces at the time, said that rather than gross violations of human rights, "violence that happened was remainders of horizontal conflicts, ordinary crimes that were committed by both sides."

"It was proven that after their independence, East Timor was still plagued with violence and the pattern was similar to 1999 that prompted them to invite the UN police (to help with security)," he said.

Wiranto also questioned the United Nations' decision to give Indonesia the responsibility for security during the vote.

"We were placed in a very difficult position, why were we given the mandate to secure that extremely sensitive project?" he asked, adding that the UN usually assigned peacekeeping missions in such situations.

"However we didn't reject the duty and it was proven to be a success," he said.

Answering questions from the commissioners, Wiranto rejected "accusations that the military were in direct control of militias that conducted" gross violations of human rights.

Militia gangs, which the UN says were recruited and directed by Indonesia's military, killed about 1,400 people and destroyed much of the infrastructure in the former Portuguese colony.

"They were not formed, nor funded, nor equipped by the military and there was no structural control of these groups," he said.

The 10-member commission, setup in 2005, has been sitting in towns and cities in Indonesia and East Timor since February to hear from witnesses to the violence.

Modelled along lines similar to South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it aims at reconciliation rather than recrimination.

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Former top Indonesian general denies blame for E. Timor violence

Rudy Madanir

JAKARTA, May 5 (Kyodo News) -- Indonesia's former armed forces commander said Saturday he could not be blamed for a wave of violence in East Timor after it voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999.

''How could I have to be accountable for a policy decided by the state to run the referendum? Besides that, we did not do the gross human right violations as accused by (the United Nations),'' former Gen. Wiranto, who was military commander and coordinating minister for political and security affairs, said.

Responding to an accusation he is the person most responsible for the mayhem, Wiranto said he was only a part of the state apparatus and not a single person who decided the state policy.

''Because of that, it means the one which was responsible to the security during the referendum was not an individual state bureaucrat, instead the state was responsible, in which the security implementation was coordinated by the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs,'' Wiranto said.

Wiranto admitted, however, he felt ''morally responsible'' and he expressed it by resigning from the post of coordinating minister when he was summoned by Indonesian prosecutors shortly after the incidents.

Wiranto was speaking before the Commission of Truth and Friendship, set up by Indonesia and East Timor to establish the truth of what happened before, during and after the referendum.

The former general also claimed there were no gross violations of human rights at that time as charged by the United Nations.

''It was no extraordinary crime, it was only ordinary crime that could also happen in Poso or Ambon,'' Wiranto said, referring to Indonesian hotspots where sectarian conflicts have claimed thousands of lives, damaged property and forced people to flee.

Instead, Wiranto charged that the accusations against him and Indonesia of human rights violation were engineered to keep Indonesia from questioning the fairness of the referendum.

Wiranto also repeated that the armed forces did not have any command link with pro-Jakarta East Timorese militia and the military did not organize, arm or finance them.

He also denied he failed to prevent atrocities, saying, ''I was only a policymaker, I could not control what happen on the field.''

The United Nations says hundreds of East Timorese died during a violent rampage after the referendum by pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the Indonesian military.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 after Portugal ended its colonial rule.

East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to break away from Indonesia in the U.N.-sponsored referendum in 1999.

Aitarak militia leader Eurico Guteres is serving a 10-year sentence at a Jakarta prison for his role in the violence, but more than a dozen military and police officers were acquitted by a special ad hoc tribunal.

The truth commission has no power to punish those responsible or to recommend prosecution.

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Some of Indon army may have been involved in ETimor

Karen Michelmore

JJAKARTA, May 5 (AAP) - The former head of Indonesia's armed forces has conceded that "one or two" of his men may have been involved in the bloodshed that swept East Timor in 1999.

But retired General Wiranto staunchly denied any gross human rights violations occurred in East Timor before and after its historic 1999 vote for independence.

Instead, he blamed the carnage on a long-running internal conflict inside East Timor.

Wiranto - who was indicted by the Dili Special Panels in absentia in 2003 for alleged crimes against humanity and was a presidential candidate in Indonesia in 2004 - today testified before a commission investigating the 1999 violence.

"These were only the actions of elements (of the military)," Wiranto told the East Timor Indonesian Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) sitting in Jakarta.

"It was not based on orders.

"This was not planned, this was just personal behaviour.

"This is just individual responsibility. The Indonesian military didn't take any sides."

The CTF was established by the presidents of Indonesia and East Timor to come up with a "conclusive truth" about the violence that swept East Timor in 1999 to help the nations reconcile.

However, the CTF, which favours friendship with Indonesia over prosecution, has been criticised by human rights groups concerned it will recommend amnesties for alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses and cloud the history of the violence.

Numerous investigations have found up to 1,500 people were killed, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and about 70 per cent of the nation's infrastructure razed when militia groups linked to the Indonesian security forces rampaged across East Timor before and after the historic vote.

Wiranto said the Indonesian security forces had a difficult job of securing the 1999 ballot within just three months because there had been a "horizontal conflict" in East Timor for decades.

He said the ballot itself had been a success and the violence after it was because the losing side was concerned about the legitimacy of the vote.

Wiranto said pro-Indonesia groups told him on September 5, 1999, they wanted to burn down East Timor after losing the ballot, but he told them not to.

"They said to me: 'Mr Wiranto, we have lost and we will destroy all the facilities that Indonesia has built' ... (but) I said: 'No, don't ... people need these facilities'," Wiranto said.

He told the group they would be "demolished" if they tried to raise the Indonesian flag and continue fighting, because it was against the wishes of the international community and the decision of Indonesia.

"There was no instruction, no plan, no support for the destruction, for the arson," Wiranto said.

He denied he had control of the militia group, or even direct control of his subordinates who may have been involved in the violence.

"Does a commander really know what their direct subordinates would do?" he said.

He said the incidents of violence were "common crimes" and not gross violations of human rights because there was no order from above of state plan behind the bloodshed.

However, he said he had resigned as minister of defence because of his "moral responsibility" for the violence.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service


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