Subject: JP/Wahid: TNI leaders 'will not face int'l court'; denies rift w/Wiranto

Jakarta Post December 23, 1999

TNI leaders 'will not face int'l court'

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia will not allow its military personnel to be tried in an international court even if evidence is found proving they were responsible for the violence in East Timor, President Abdurrahman Wahid said on Wednesday.

"We do not want (them tried in) an international court because that would be a violation of our sovereignty," the President, popularly called Gus Dur, told a media briefing at Bina Graha presidential office.

He stressed, however, that he supported the ongoing investigation by an independent commission into the possibility that the Indonesian Military (TNI) was directly or indirectly responsible for the violence that erupted in East Timor in September.

The commission's findings will be used to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to try TNI personnel in court.

At the center of the controversy is Gen. Wiranto, who, as TNI chief in September, was regarded as the person most responsible for overseeing security in East Timor. Wiranto is now Gus Dur's coordinating minister for political affairs and security.

Without specifically naming anyone, Abdurrahman said he would not sacrifice the entire nation just to protect TNI generals.

"The whole nation cannot be sacrificed just for one or two persons. Whoever is sentenced by a free and fair court must honor the verdict. And I am ready to face the consequences," he said.

Abdurrahman dismissed speculation that a rift had developed between him and Wiranto after it was noticed that the two are rarely seen together at state functions.

The Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM), in an interim report in November, said TNI played a role in the campaign of terror and destruction by pro-Indonesia militias after they lost the ballot to proindependence groups.

The commission was set up in September by then president B.J. Habibie after Indonesia rejected an international inquiry which would look into the possibility of setting up an international war crimes tribunal for perpetrators of the East Timor violence.

Earlier on Wednesday, Wiranto failed to appear to answer a summons by KPP HAM.

"We received a phone call this morning from the military, asking us to postpone the questioning. We learned that the military wanted more time to prepare for the questions," KPP HAM secretary Asmara Nababan told a news conference.

Wiranto is one of six generals which the commission said were most responsible for overseeing East Timor's security in September. The other five are Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman, Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin and police Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen.

Asmara said the military promised to send a facsimile to propose a new date for the questioning.

KPP HAM chairman Albert Hasibuan said Wiranto had one week to answer the summons.

By law, the National Commission on Human Rights, which oversees KPP HAM, has the authority to subpoena people and the right to ask for a court order to force persons to cooperate with an inquiry.

Besides Wiranto, three leaders of pro-Indonesia militias in East Timor also ignored KPP HAM summonses to appear on Wednesday. They were Eurico Guterres of the Aitarak militia, Joao da Silva Tavares, commander of prointegration forces, and Olivio Moruk of the Laksaur militia. On Tuesday, Manuel Sousa of the Besi Merah Putih militia also did not appear before the commission.

KPP HAM has threatened to charge the four with obstruction of justice if they refuse to cooperate with the inquiry.


Meanwhile, UN rights investigators urged on Tuesday the Security Council to consider setting up an international tribunal to try those suspected of war crimes in East Timor if Indonesia failed to investigate its military involvement in atrocities there.

"This should preferably be done with the consent of the (Indonesian) government, but such consent should not be a prerequisite," the investigators said in a report presented to the Council on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"Such a tribunal should have jurisdiction over all crimes under international law committed by any party in the territory since the departure of the colonial power," the report said, referring to the end of Portuguese rule in 1975.

"Unless, in a matter of months, the steps taken by the government of Indonesia to investigate TNI involvement in the past year's atrocities bear fruit, both in the way of credible clarification of the facts and the bringing to justice of the perpetrators -- both directly and by virtue of command responsibility, however high the level of responsibility -- the Security Council should consider the establishment of an international criminal tribunal for this purpose."

The report was written by three special rapporteurs, or investigators, of the UN Human Rights Commission in the fields of extrajudicial executions, torture and violence against women. They visited East Timor in November.

In Jakarta, the foreign ministry's director general of political affairs, Nugroho Wisnumurti, said his office was lobbying member countries of the United Nations to reject the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal. (04/byg/prb)

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