Subject: Bishop Accuses Wiranto of Lying

Associated Press December 25, 1999

E. Timor Bishop Accuses Chief


DILI, East Timor (AP) - Nobel laureate Bishop Carlos Belo has accused Indonesia's former military chief, Gen. Wiranto, of lying about the army's involvement in the destruction of East Timor following its independence vote.

``Wiranto said that (the Indonesian military) as an institution didn't kill or make bad things happen for us, but he lied,'' East Timor's spiritual leader said at a Christmas Mass late Friday.

Earlier in the day, during testimony in Jakarta before a state-appointed panel investigating human rights abuses, Wiranto denied that army commanders had instigated the destruction of East Timor after the Aug. 30 vote.

He said, ``there was absolutely no such policy or planning process by (army) leaders.''

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled it with an iron hand for 24 years. Days after East Timorese voted for independence in the U.N.-sponsored referendum, anti-independence militia - reportedly with army backing - went on a rampage, killing residents, burning and looting houses and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Members of the Indonesia's Investigative Commission for Human Rights Abuses in East Timor have said that top generals should be held accountable because they knew about the violence but failed to stop it.

A U.N. team probing the atrocities has recommended that the Security Council establish an international war crimes tribunal to try the generals unless Jakarta acts quickly to bring them to justice.

Wiranto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, blamed the violence on groups ``dissatisfied'' by the outcome of the ballot, saying the military leadership had been powerless to prevent it.

``The burning occurred after the referendum because there were some factions who lost,'' he said after the two-hour hearing. ``They became emotional and disappointed and reacted with destruction.''

In Dili, Bishop Belo urged a congregation of almost 2,000 people, who had crowded into the courtyard of his burned residence, to forgive Wiranto and others responsible for the violence.

``We know very well that many of our friends, East Timorese people, killed us, they burnt our houses, they denied their blood and they denied their country, but we must forgive them, we must bring peace to our country,'' he said.

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