Subject: Indon's Wahid: Generals Won't Be Tried By UN Tribunal

Associated Press December 22, 1999

Indonesia's Wahid: Generals Won't Be Tried By UN Tribunal

JAKARTA (AP)--Indonesia won't allow its top generals to be tried in an international war crimes tribunal now being considered by the U.N., President Abdurrahman Wahid said Wednesday.

Wahid made the comment just hours after Indonesia's former military chief Gen. Wiranto, now a senior Cabinet minister, failed to appear before an Indonesian government-appointed panel investigating human rights abuses in East Timor.

Wahid said Indonesia's judicial system, not the U.N., should be responsible for bringing those responsible for atrocities in East Timor to justice.

"Indonesia doesn't want an international tribunal to judge Wiranto and other military leaders," he said.

Wahid described the issue a matter of "national sovereignty."

"I am not trying to protect anybody. We have to respect our courts," he said.

Wiranto was summoned to appear before the government-appointed Investigative Commission for Human Rights Abuses in East Timor, but didn't turn up Wednesday.

Instead, he sent a message asking the commission to delay the hearing by a week.

State investigators say Wiranto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, and other military commanders should be held accountable for the violence that they knew was taking place but failed to stop.

East Timorese independence leaders have also blamed Wiranto as being ultimately responsible for the bloodshed and destruction in their homeland.

Wiranto has denied allegations that the military was involved in the atrocities.

Indonesia's military reigned supreme in East Timor for 24 years after it invaded the former Portuguese colony. On Aug. 30, East Timor's people overwhelmingly voted to secede.

Panel May Not Have Pwr To Summon Wiranto After Dec 31

The result of the U.N.-supervised ballot set off a wave of violence and destruction by anti-independence militia gangs, which analysts say were organized and commanded by the military.

The bodies of about 230 people killed during the violence have been recovered so far. The World Bank estimates that more than 75% of the region's inhabitants were forced to flee their homes and that 70% of all infrastructure was destroyed.

Asmara Nababan, a member of the Indonesian investigating team, said Wiranto's lawyers had formally requested that the hearing be delayed.

"They told us they needed more time," he said. "We've given them one week."

If Wiranto again fails to turn up, it isn't clear if the commission will have the power to summon him again. The panel's mandate runs out on Dec. 31, although the government is expected to renew it next year.

Meanwhile, the leaders of two pro-Indonesian militia gangs in East Timor also ignored summons to appear, Nababan said.

He said that Manuel Sousa, head of the Red and White militia group, had been scheduled to appear Tuesday and will be charged with obstruction of justice if he fails to turn up again.

Eurico Guterres, the leader of the Aitarak gang, ignored his summons and didn't appear before the commission Wednesday.

Earlier this month, U.N. human rights investigators visited Jakarta, after spending nine days in East Timor gathering evidence of atrocities.

The team will present its report to U.N. Secretary-general Kofi Annan before the end of the year. The U.N. Security Council will then decide if it will go ahead with a proposed war crimes tribunal, similar to those established in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

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