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Indonesia names 19 as suspects in East Timor violence JAKARTA - An East Timorese fisherman on Friday paddles by graves of those killed by anti-independence militiamen in last year's violence in Maubara, west of Dili, East Timor List includes three generals, but omits Wiranto.

Prosecutors on Friday said they plan to question 19 suspects in the wave of bloodshed that washed over East Timor last year after the territory voted for independence from Indonesia.

The list includes three top generals and other army officers, police, government officials and members of anti-independence militias. But the named suspects did not include former military commander Gen. Wiranto and prominent militia leader Eurico Guterres. Both have been implicated by the United Nations and an earlier Indonesian inquiry into the violence, in which hundreds of people died.

"This announcement fell far short of what was expected," reported CNN's Maria Ressa, noting that an earlier Indonesian government-sponsored human rights commission accused 33 military officers -- including Wiranto -- of "crimes against humanity." A separate U.N. panel concluded that the terror campaign "would not have been possible without the active involvement of the Indonesian army, and the knowledge and approval of the top military command."

The findings from the earlier probes forced President Abdurrahman Wahid to fire Wiranto from his Cabinet earlier this year. Wiranto has admitted that some lower-ranking members of Indonesia's military backed the militias, but has denied that the army command actively supported the violence. East Timorese independence leader and Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta said the list was "a good start" but he was angered by the absence of Guterres' name on the list.

"If Eurico Guterres, a notorious war criminal, is not brought to trial, it leaves no option to the United Nations but to set up a war crimes tribunal," he said Friday in East Timor's capital, Dili. Indonesia has been under strong international pressure to put on trial those responsible for the violence or face the threat of an international tribunal. The decision not to take action against Wiranto -- who enjoys the backing of powerful army hard-liners -- will likely result in renewed calls for an international tribunal to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice.

Indonesia's democratic government has rejected the idea of a tribunal along the lines of those for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. It insists its own court system is capable of bringing those responsible to trial. At a news conference in Jakarta on Friday, Abdul Rachman, chief of the joint investigating team on human rights violations in East Timor, points to a list of suspects in last year's violence in East Timor.

High-ranking officials named

Abdul Rachman, who leads the Indonesian joint commission on human rights violations in East Timor, said Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, a former regional army commander, topped the list of possible suspects. Two other generals named on the list are former East Timor military commander Brigadier-General Tono Suratman and ex-East Timor police chief Brigadier-General Timbul Silaen. Eleven more officers, ranging from lieutenant to colonel, were also named. Rachman left open the possibility of naming more suspects in the investigation.

Others on the list were Abilio Soares, East Timor's former Indonesian-appointed governor, the district head of Liquica township and three militia members. "All will be summoned for questioning next week," Rachman said. Rachman added that Indonesia had not been influenced by any international pressure in naming the suspects. "The listing of the potential suspects by the team of investigators was based on the strong confidence (over the evidence), not because of international pressure," Rachman said.

Suspects accused in massacres

The group of suspects is accused in five specific atrocities. They include massacres in April 1999 of independence supporters in Liquica and of refugees who sought shelter at the Dili home of prominent independence leader Manuel Carrascalao.

The group also is accused in violence that raged in the days after the territory voted for independence last year -- including a bloody attack on the home of Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, killings in the border town of Suai and the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes. At least 250 people were killed, most of the population displaced and the bulk of the buildings in the territory destroyed when pro-Jakarta gangs, backed by the military, rampaged after the result of the independence vote was announced last September.

It marked the end of 23 years of often brutal military rule by Indonesia in the former Portuguese colony. Multinational troops were eventually sent in to bring East Timor under control and the territory is now under United Nations administration. Guterres, who headed the notorious Aitarak (Thorn) militia, is accused of leading the destruction of Dili. Just days before the referendum, he publicly threatened to transform the town into "a sea of fire" if its people voted for independence.



Posted in Violence @ 01 September 2000 16:34 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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