Indonesian General to Go on Trial for Role in East Timor
Rights Abuses East Timorese Plaintiffs Travel to U.S. to Testify
Hearing to Assess Damages Against General Lumintang
For Immediate Release
March 22, 2001
Contact: John M. Miller, (917)690-4391, email@example.com
Jennie Green, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), (212)614-6434,
Joshua Sondheimer, Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA),
Next week a U.S. court in Washington, DC, will hear evidence that
Indonesian General Johny Lumintang is responsible for gross human rights
violations and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor. Judge Alan
Kay will preside over the hearing from Tuesday, March 27 to Thursday,
March 29 in courtroom 5 at the U.S. Federal Courthouse (3rd and
Constitution Ave., NW). Court is in session from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
The proceeding will determine the amount of compensatory and punitive
damages to be assessed against Lumintang, who is not expected to attend.
"Lawsuits like this one can help insure that those responsible for
1999's devastation of East Timor are called to account, while putting
future rights abusers on notice," said John M. Miller of the East
Timor Action Network, which is supporting the suit. "While no
substitute for an international tribunal, all available means must be used
to bring justice for East Timor."
In 1999, Lumintang was the vice chief of staff of the Indonesian army.
Following the August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian
military systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering at least 1500 East
Timorese and destroying 70-80 percent of the infrastructure. Hundreds of
thousands were forced from their homes.
Plaintiffs who have travelled to Washington to testify in the
proceedings include a victim of
Indonesian military violence whose father was injured and brother killed in
post-election attacks. Two other East Timorese (who wish to remain
anonymous) targeted by the Indonesian military in September 1999, during
the "scorched earth" campaign following the overwhelming vote
for independence from Indonesia will also testify: a mother whose son was
shot and killed, and a man who lost a foot after he was shot by an
Lumintang was personally served notice of the civil suit on March 30,
2000, while visiting the Washington, DC area. After he failed to answer
the charges, including crimes against humanity, summary execution, and
torture, a judge declared Lumintang to be in default. Next week's hearing
will determine the amount of damages for the plaintiffs and the amount to
be assessed against Lumintang in punitive damages.
Lt. Gen. Lumintang currently serves as secretary general of the
Ministry of Defense.
In 1992, a judgment for $14 million was issued in a similar case
against Indonesian General Sintong Panjaitan for his involvement in the
Nov. 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of over 270 East Timorese.
The Lumintang lawsuit, like the Panjaitan case, is based in part on the
Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 which allows anyone, citizen or not, to sue
for acts committed outside the United States "in violation of the law
of nations or a treaty of the United States." The 1992 Torture Victim
Protection Act restates the 1789 law and applies it to torture victims.
Lawsuits can only go forward if the defendant is served legal papers while
in the U.S.
Counsel for the case are the Center for Constitutional Rights, the
Center for Justice and Accountability and the law firm of Patton, Boggs.
For more information about the Lumintang and Panjaitan cases, see http://www.etan.org/news/2000a/11suit.htm.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. founded following the November 1991
massacre supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East
Timor. ETAN has 27 local chapters throughout the U.S.
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