Global Policy Forum

Jakarta's Timor Trials 'a Sham'


By Jill Jolliffe

June 19, 2005

Indonesia should retry accused war criminals acquitted by a special court in Jakarta because the process was a sham, according to United Nations experts on East Timor. A 160-page report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is due for debate in the Security Council next week. The Sunday Age had exclusive access to the document, which says the trials were "manifestly inadequate" with "scant respect for relevant international standards". It says prosecutors were "not committed to justice", and that the court had been hostile to defence witnesses but lenient on the accused.

The three experts, Justice Prafullachandra Bhagwati of India, Professor Yozo Yokota of Japan and Shaista Shameem of Fiji, visited Indonesia and East Timor earlier this year. They were appointed by Mr Annan in February to investigate why a 1999 Security Council resolution calling for the trial of those accused of atrocities in Timor during its independence referendum had not been implemented.

Indonesian military and police officers tried in Jakarta for murders, arson attacks and deportation of 250,000 East Timorese still walk free. By contrast, Timorese militiamen tried by a parallel UN court in Dili are serving jail terms of up to 28 years. Those enjoying impunity include former defence minister and presidential candidate Wiranto, a case noted by the experts.

The report recommends that Indonesia be given six months to prepare credible trials. If it does not comply, the experts argue, the UN should invoke its charter to set up an international war crimes court for East Timor.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the Ad-Hoc Court for East Timor
More Information on East Timor


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