Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: JP: Timor prosecutors indict Indonesian officers for 1999 atrocities

Jakarta Post April 09, 2003

E. Timor prosecutors indict Indonesian officers for 1999 atrocities

DILI (Agencies): Prosecutors in East Timor said on Wednesday they have indicted 16 people including eight Indonesian army officers for crimes against humanity before and after the territory's bloody breakaway from Jakarta in 1999.

The Serious Crimes Unit said in a statement that an indictment filed Monday accuses the 16 of 31 counts of crimes against humanity against civilians including "murder, extermination, enforced disappearance, torture, deportation and persecution."

It is the second attempt in less than two months by the United Nations-funded unit to bring Indonesian officers to justice, AFP reported.

In late February it indicted Indonesia's former defence minister and military chief, Wiranto, for crimes against humanity along with six other senior officers and the then-governor.

Indonesia refuses to hand over any suspects. And East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao criticised the February indictments, saying good relations withthe former ruler should take priority.

Indonesia's military and their proxy militias waged a savage intimidation campaign before East Timorese voted in August 1999 for independence, and a revenge campaign afterwards.

At least 1,000 people were murdered. The territory finally gained independence last May after a period of UN stewardship.

The latest indictment covers crimes in Covalima district between January and October 1999, including the massacre at Suai church on September 6 in which at least 31 people including three Catholic priests were killed.

Apart from the eight officers, those charged are the former Indonesian district civilian administrator, the former Indonesian district police chief and six ethnic East Timorese serving with the military.

Among the former district comanders and officials to be indicted are Colonel Herman Sedyono, the ex-district administrator; Lt. Col. Achmad Mas Agus; Lt. Col Lilik Kushardianto; police Lt. Col. Gatot Subiaktoro; Lt. Achmad Syamsuddin and Lt. Lt. Sugito.

The indictment accuses Sedyono of personally taking part in the church attack along with Kushardianto, Subiaktoro, Sugito and Syamsuddin.

It says Sedyono and Agus helped set up and fund the notorious Laksaur militia while Agus gave them military weapons.

Between January and August 1999 troops and militiamen are alleged to have colluded in over 35 cases of torture, four "disappearances" and 10 cases ofmurder in Covalima.

After August, soldiers and militiamen in the district are accused of 36 murders.

The Serious Crimes Unit said all the accused are believed to be in Indonesia. Prosecutors there would be asked to arrest them and the warrants would also be forwarded to Interpol.

Sedyono, Kushardianto, Subiaktoro, Syamsuddin and Sugito have already appeared before Indonesia's human rights court and been aquitted.

The Jakarta court was set up in response to international demands for justice but has acquitted 11 out of 16 defendants in widely criticised verdicts.

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