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The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, February 27, 2003

Dili indictment based on command responsibility

Nug Katjasungkana, Contributor, Dili

On Tuesday, the Dili-based Office of the Prosecutor General of Timor Leste issued an indictment of former military commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto and six other officers who served in East Timor, as well as former governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares, of crimes against humanity. The following are excerpts of an interview with the Prosecutor of the Serious Crimes Unit, Stuart Alford.

Question: What evidence do you have of the link between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the militia in East Timor in 1999?

Answer: Militias were part of TNI's ability to commit violent acts. The evidence we have collected shows quite clearly that TNI was in control, in effective control, over the militia groups. That evidence comes from witness statements -- 1,500 witness statements -- which support the conclusions we've reached.

We believe evidence from witnesses who were here -- some from people here, the militia, TNI personnel, civilian authorities -- leads to the conclusions in the indictment. Nothing in the indictment is speculative...We based the charges on the evidence we have collected and can prove them in court against the men charged.

We have identified seven of the eight men -- except Wiranto -- as playing a part in forming and establishing the militia by the issuing of instructions -- particularly to subordinate TNI officers -- giving money for weapons, or by their verbal support and cooperation which, given the intent of the militia groups, clearly demonstrate that the support of the TNI hierarchy was important -- they knew the militia could commit these crimes without being punished. The evidence is clear they were not punished.

How does Wiranto's responsibility differ from the others'?

Wiranto is the only man in this indictment against whom we don't have evidence of personal participation, by which I mean we don't have evidence of the things he said or orders he gave, which directly led to the establishment of militias.

But throughout the whole period, he had command authority over all of the men charged, apart from Soares, and all TNI personnel who were here in 1999. During that period, it is clear that not only men in command, but all ranks and levels of TNI soldiers, were involved in crimes. Some of these are the men at the end of the chain of command using knives and weapons to kill people, but nonetheless these were men under Wiranto's command.

It goes further: Wiranto had command responsibility, but because of the relationship between TNI and the militia groups, he ultimately had control over militia groups as well, because the militia groups were controlled by TNI subordinates.

Wiranto was repeatedly told by the press, members of the international community, and East Timorese leaders that TNI soldiers and militia groups were committing crimes throughout East Timor.

We use the long and growing history of command responsibility -- arguments developed at trials in the Hague, in Rwanda, after World War II in Japan and the Nuremberg trials in Germany. This is one in a long line of cases, the most recent of which is the (Slobodan) Milosevic trial in the Hague (on war crimes in Bosnia).

Cooperation from Indonesia would be needed to take these people to court. What if Indonesia does not want to deliver them to Timor Leste?

We believe that the process in East Timor against these eight men is getting as far as we can take it. We have investigated, analyzed the evidence, filed the indictment with the Dili District Court and arrest warrants are in process and will be issued soon. Once obtained, they will be sent to the Attorney General in Indonesia, and also lodged and filed with Interpol, which means that any other Interpol country has the obligation to enforce the arrest warrants.

We believe it will require something outside of East Timor to bring these men to court in East Timor -- Interpol or international or diplomatic pressure, or pressure from organizations and individual countries to see that something is done.

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