UN 'Blocking Arrest of Wiranto'


By Jill Jolliffe

Sydney Morning Herald
January 14, 2004

East Timor's chief prosecutor has accused the United Nations of blocking an arrest warrant for war crimes against Wiranto, the Indonesian general who is a front-runner for presidential elections in July. "There are no legal obstacles, only political obstacles, both in Indonesia and East Timor," Longuinhos Monteiro said. But Mr Monteiro said he was closer to obtaining the warrant, and an Interpol warrant, for the former military chief, which would lead to his arrest if he travels abroad. Wiranto is one of eight senior officers charged with directing crimes against humanity during Indonesia's bloody exit from East Timor in 1999. International judges working for the United Nations in Dili refused to issue the warrants when requested last February, but the prosecutor appealed, and recently secured one for a Wiranto henchman, Colonel Yayat Sudrajat. Mr Monteiro said the same UN-funded judges are now delaying the other seven cases. They say they can issue only one warrant at a time, he said, and are insisting each Interpol warrant must be issued before they approve the next one. A UN spokeswoman, Marcia Poole, would not comment on matters before the courts. Since trials began in 1999, special international panels in Dili have indicted 369 people for crimes against humanity, of whom 281 remain at large in Indonesia. Prosecutors, who were stymied by Jakarta's refusal to extradite, adopted a new strategy after East Timor joined Interpol last year. New Interpol warrants are being issued regularly for Indonesian military officers.

Wiranto is seeking Golkar party nomination for the presidential poll. If he wins it this month, he could defeat the incumbent President, Megawati Soekarnoputri, on July 5. An Interpol warrant would scuttle his ambition. "I know Indonesian Interpol will not arrest him, but I think he would be arrested if he tried to enter America," Mr Monteiro said. The judge's strategy could delay an Interpol warrant for Wiranto until beyond the election date. Mr Monteiro said the UN is mainly concerned to delay local warrants until after it pulls out of East Timor in May. "They don't want international signatures on them," he said, "but we have the evidence to indict General Wiranto, and this is just political interference." Nicholas Koumjian, head of the UN-financed Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), denied his department was obstructing the warrants. "We have always been concerned with the delay in these cases, and have approached the judges to see what can be done to help them proceed faster," he said. The SCU was established by a 1999 Security Council resolution to bring alleged war criminals to justice, and has spearheaded prosecutions. After independence in May 2002, it came under the authority of the East Timorese Government, though staff are recruited and paid by the UN. The Wiranto indictment was filed by Mr Koumjian's predecessor, Siri Frigaard. It created a row in the UN and among East Timorese leaders, who are divided over war crimes trials. Some East Timorese leaders, including President Xanana Gusmao and the Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, have loudly opposed Wiranto's indictment. They say it harms the new relationship they are trying to build with Jakarta after many years of bloodshed.

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