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East Timor judge issues arrest warrant for Wiranto DILI (EAST TIMOR) - A judge in East Timor on Monday issued an arrest warrant for Indonesian presidential candidate Wiranto for crimes against humanity in the territory in 1999. "On 10 May, 2004, an international judge at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor issued an arrest warrant for retired General Wiranto," prosecutors from the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) said in a statement. Wiranto was military chief when army-backed militiamen waged a bloody campaign against independence supporters in the then-Indonesian territory.
He is the candidate for Indonesia's largest party Golkar in the July 5 presidential election. "The issuance of the Wiranto warrant is an important step in our continuing efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the violence against the civilian population of East Timor in 1999," said deputy general prosecutor for serious crimes, Nicholas Koumjian, in the statement. "It sends a message that the victims have not been forgotten and that the international community will not tolerate impunity for those responsible for crimes against humanity, whoever they are."
Indonesia refuses to hand anyone over for trial in East Timor. But if the arrest warrant is forwarded to Interpol, it might make Wiranto liable for arrest overseas. Dili officials could not immediately say whether the warrant would be forwarded. Wiranto, who is also a former security minister, was indicted in East Timor in February last year along with seven other senior figures. He was charged by the United Nations-funded SCU with command responsibility for murder, deportation and persecution "committed in the context of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population in East Timor."
Wiranto, 57, says he did his best to minimise bloodshed in 1999. His lawyers say the charges are an attempt to derail his election. Koumjian told AFP the indictment was based upon "tragic facts that happened a few years ago, and in my view it's not appropriate to forget about that because it's politically inconvenient." Asked about suggestions that prosecutors are trying to sabotage Wiranto's presidential bid, he said the charges were filed in February 2003 before it was known that the ex-general would become a candidate.
Some 1,400 people were murdered before and after East Timorese voted for independence in August 1999. About 200,000 East Timorese were deported or forcibly transferred to Indonesian West Timor and about 70 percent of all buildings in the territory were destroyed. Prosecutors have charges pending against 313 accused, most of whom are in Indonesia. East Timor President Xanana Gusmao, a former anti-Indonesian guerrilla, has said good relations with Indonesia should take priority over court proceedings.
"We will support anyone who is elected democratically in the July presidential election, including Wiranto," Gusmao said this month. The territory became independent in May 2002 after a period of UN stewardship. Wiranto's biographical sheet ists "peacemaking in East Timor" as one of his achievements. In testimony to an Indonesian human rights tribunal, he blamed the violence on conflict between the territory's opponents and supporters of independence.
"Indonesian security forces had an extraordinary difficult mission - I call it Mission Impossible," he said at the time. A spokeswoman for Wiranto said they "have not seen or received copies of the warrant and therefore we have as yet no comment." Indonesia held its own trials over the 1999 violence. But Wiranto was not charged and 12 out of 18 defendants were acquitted in a process described by rights groups as largely a sham.



Posted in Crime @ 10 May 2004 00:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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