Wiranto escapes blame for East Timor suspects list

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The Independent Online

The Indonesian authorities named 19 suspects yesterday, including three generals, in connection with gross human rights violations in East Timor - a move cautiously welcomed by East Timorese leaders and human rights activists.

The Indonesian authorities named 19 suspects yesterday, including three generals, in connection with gross human rights violations in East Timor - a move cautiously welcomed by East Timorese leaders and human rights activists.

But the Indonesian Attorney General's office responsible for conducting the investigation into crimes committed in East Timor last year was criticised for not including on its list the chief of the armed forces at the time, General Wiranto, and the leaders of Jakarta-backed militia organisations.

"There is no Wiranto and no Eurico Guterres [the Dili militia leader]," the East Timorese guerrilla commander Taur Matan Ruak said . "We will give the Indonesians more time but this is not a good start."

Indonesia's often brutal 24-year rule of East Timor came to an end last year when the Timorese people voted for independence in a United Nations sponsored ballot on 30 August. After the vote, hundreds of people were killed and 300,000 East Timorese were forcibly deported by the Indonesian military and their proxy militia. The violence ended only with the intervention of an Australian-led multi-national force.

Documents found in East Timor before and after the vote linked militia activity to the Indonesian military and government. However, in February, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, said there would not be an international war crimes tribunal if Indonesia conducted a "credible" trial of those responsible for the violence.

Human rights activists have already criticised the Indonesian process for being too slow and ineffectual and say the list of suspects indicates the Indonesian regime does not have the political will to prosecute high-ranking Indonesian military and government officials.

"We are talking about gross violation against humanity and Wiranto, who was at the top of the command line at that time, was excluded... It indicates that Indonesia still faces a lot of political constraints," said Asmara Nababan, secretary general of Indonesia's Human Rights Commission.

The 19 suspects' names were released in connection with five cases, which include an attack on the house of the Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Belo and the murder of a Financial Times journalist, Sander Thoenes.

The attorney general's office left open the possibility for more suspects to be named.

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