Subject: Indon commission to subpoena generals over ETimor atrocities

INTERVIEW-Group to subpoena Indonesia generals

By Joanne Collins

DILI, East Timor, Nov 18 (Reuters) - An official Indonesian commission investigating rights abuses in East Timor said on Thursday it planned to subpoena high-ranking army officers for atrocities committed in the territory.

The Indonesian military has been widely blamed for supporting pro-Jakarta gangs who went on a murderous rampage after the tiny territory voted in August to go independent.

``We are planning to investigate (in order) to subpoena the most high-ranking people of the army,'' chairman of the government-sanctioned Commission for the Investigation of Human Rights Abuses in East Timor, Albert Hasibuan, told Reuters.

``We are planning to subpoena General Wiranto, and General Damiri and Zacky (Anwar)...we are collecting evidence on all these people right now,'' he said.

Wiranto was Indonesia's defence minister and armed forces commander when the atrocities were committed in East Timor. He is now Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs.

Damiri was in charge of the troops in East Timor before independence, and Zacky Anwar, former head of military intelligence, was in the territory as part of a government body overseeing the referendum.

The commission has the power to subpoena, but does not have the final decision on whether to prosecute.

Hasibuan said the commission also planned to subpoena Major-General Sjafrie Syamsuddin.

Syamsuddin was military commander of Jakarta during the riots in the capital in May last year which helped force long-serving autocrat President Suharto from power.

Pro-Jakarta militiamen, working with elements of the military, embarked on a wave of destruction after the referendum, driving hundreds of thousands of East Timorese across the border into West Timor.

DEATH TOLL PUT AT MORE THAN 1000

Hundreds, possibly thousands, are thought to have died in the violence.

Hasibuan said he believed more than 1,000 people had died.

The commission is investigating abuses which occurred in the territory since January, when Indonesia announced it would allow East Timorese to vote whether to continue with 23 years of Jakarta rule.

It has until the end of December to collect its evidence.

Hasibuan said the commission had already gathered evidence in the form of eyewitness accounts and documentation provided by local rights and aid organisations.

Hasibuan and commision vice-chairman Mulya Lubis arrived in Dili late on Thursday for a four-day visit.

They will meet Nobel prizewinner Bishop Carlos Belo, General-Major Peter Cosgrove, the leader of the international peacekeepers, United Nations officials and local rights groups.

The commission will also visit the town of Suai, in the southwest of the country, where one of the worst massacres is thought to have taken place.

A U.N. resolution in September set up a Human Rights Comission of Inquiry which required co-operation with the Indonesian Human Rights Comission.

The sluggish pace of investigations into abuses in the territory has been widely criticised.

A five-member human rights team appointed by the U.N. is not due to arrive in East Timor until November 24 -- more than eight weeks after the multinational force arrived.

08:55 11-18-99


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