The Guardian May 28, 2003


Bring Indonesian war criminal to trial

On the first anniversary of East Timor's independence, (May 20, 2003), 
the International Federation for East Timor (IFET) urged the UN Security 
Council to establish an international tribunal to try the masterminds of 
war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the territory from 1975 
to 1999.

In an open letter to council members, IFET called a tribunal "essential to 
punish past violence and deter future violence against the people of East 
Timor and Indonesia and against UN personnel".

Indonesia has established an Ad Hoc Court on Human Rights for East Timor, 
and verdicts in its last trials are due shortly, in order to deflect moves 
to establish an international tribunal.

But Indonesia has failed to "overcome [the court's] inherent flaws", IFET 
wrote, citing numerous criticisms by UN officials of the ad hoc court. East 
Timor's leaders have urged the international community to take primary 
responsibility for judging crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.

Moreover, noted IFET, "[a]n international tribunal is not only a matter of 
justice for the people of East Timor." The letter pointed out that 
Indonesian security forces committed the crimes as Indonesia defied 
multiple UN resolutions and, in 1999, sought to undermine a UN operation.

"Many of those accused of abuses continue to occupy positions of 
responsibility in Indonesia", IFET wrote. The letter cited the example of 
Major General Adam Damiri, who missed a recent session of his trial before 
Indonesia's ad hoc court because he was involved in preparing military 
operations in Aceh.

On Monday, Indonesia launched a military assault against the war-torn 
province. It was the largest attack by Indonesia since the 1975 invasion of 
East Timor.

The letter concluded that East Timor's "reconciliation with Indonesia is 
political, and police leaders who planned, organised and commanded the 
terror campaign in 1999 and who ordered the invasion, occupation and 
destruction in East Timor."

Finally, IFET called on the Security Council to extend the mandate of the 
Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (SCU) and its special courts. IFET said 
the "work of the SCU would serve as a solid basis for an ad hoc 
international tribunal."

The SCU has issued several indictments of ranking Indonesian officials for 
crimes committed in 1999. Among those indicted are General Wiranto, the 
former Defence Minister, and two-thirds of those indicted by the SCU are 
believed to reside in Indonesia, which refuses to extradite anyone to East 
Timor.

IFET was formed in 1991 to support East Timor at the United Nations. It has 
35 member groups from 20 countries.

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