Military commanders implicated in East Timor violence

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Indonesian government investigators implicated several top generals today in the burning and looting spree that followed an overwhelming vote for independence in East Timor.

Indonesian government investigators implicated several top generals today in the burning and looting spree that followed an overwhelming vote for independence in East Timor.

Several commanders, including former military chief Gen. Wiranto - now a senior Cabinet minister in charge of security - will be summoned before a tribunal investigating human rights abuses in the former Indonesian province, said Munir, a member of the investigative commission set up by the government in the wake of the violence. Munir, like Wiranto and many other Indonesians, uses only one name.

While the probe has yet to uncover evidence that the generals planned the violence, Munir said army commanders knew about it in advance and did nothing to prevent it.

"They were told beforehand and did not try to stop it, so we allege they were involved in this orgy of destruction," he said.

Militia thugs and soldiers forced hundreds of thousands of East Timorese from their homes when they started a systematic terror campaign following the announcement of the results of the Aug. 30 U.N.-sponsored plebiscite.

The United Nations and many foreign governments blame the Indonesian army for training, arming, and organizing the paramilitary gangs.

Indonesia controlled East Timor for 24 years until it officially relinquished all claims to the former Portuguese colony last month.

Commenting on the allegations, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Sudrajat said, "We respect the work of the commission and would like to work with them to clarify the report."

Commission members working in East Timor said Saturday that the government planned to establish a special tribunal to try individuals accused of human rights abuses.

"Human rights abuses in East Timor were blatant, gross and systematic," said Mulya Lubis, a Jakarta lawyer.

Lubis said the commission members would meet with President Abdurrahman Wahid later this week to present their findings.

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