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Megawati poll rival put on US watch list JAKARTA - The US State Department has put six current and former Indonesian military officers, including a leading presidential candidate, on a watch list of indicted war criminals, in effect barring them from entering the United States, US Government officials say. The list includes Wiranto, the former head of the armed forces and a leading presidential candidate in this year's elections. The Defence Department once considered Wiranto a reform-minded professional.
He and the others on the list were included in a group of eight Indonesian army officers indicted last year on war crimes in Dili District Court by East Timor's prosecutor-general, using evidence gathered by the United Nations serious crimes unit. A member of Wiranto's campaign team, who declined to be named, played down any damage the US move would cause to his presidential ambitions, saying a ban on visiting the US would not apply if he was elected president.
"People I have spoken to are convinced his name is not on the list," he said. "Assuming he was on this list . . . and he was elected president, a ban no longer applies because it becomes a diplomatic matter." In recent months Wiranto has emerged as a front-runner to win the nomination of the Golkar Party of the former president Soeharto, which would allow him to challenge President Megawati Soekarnoputri in the poll in July. However, satisfactorily explaining his role in East Timor's bloodshed remains a big obstacle.
The UN has come under pressure from human rights groups and some governments to take action against Indonesia for its perceived failure to seriously pursue those responsible for crimes in East Timor. An Indonesian ad hoc tribunal set up under UN pressure did prosecute 18 officers and officials for war crimes, but it acquitted most of them and allowed those it convicted to remain free on appeal. Some senior officers, including Wiranto - head of the armed forces at the time of East Timor's independence vote - were not investigated or prosecuted.
The refusal to prosecute angered US State Department officials, who believe the tribunal disregarded the evidence. The watch list decision came as Washington strengthened its ties with Indonesia's military and security forces to track down suspected terrorists. At the same time, the US Government is leaning on the Indonesian military to co-operate with an FBI investigation into an attack in 2002 on Americans - including two teachers who were killed - in the Indonesian province of Papua.
Eight Americans were wounded in the assault that claimed the teachers' lives. Their vehicle was ambushed on an isolated mountain road controlled by the military and a US mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia. The State Department and an Indonesian police investigator said the evidence pointed to military involvement in the ambush.



Posted in PT Freeport @ 17 January 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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