Global Policy Forum

Crimes Will Go to Trial, Timor Leste Prosecutor


By Tiarma Siboro

Jakarta Post
February 22, 2006

Prosecutions of crimes against humanity in Timor Leste will not be affected by the diplomatic approach taken by the country and Indonesia, Timor Leste's general prosecutor says. Longinos Monteiro's remarks followed a closed-door meeting with the Commission for Truth and Friendship. The team was established by Indonesia and Timor Leste to investigate alleged human rights abuses that took place around the 1999 UN-backed referendum for independence in Indonesia's former province.

"Monteiro told us that the commission and the prosecutors in Timor Leste are playing different roles in dealing with alleged rights abuses. We believe that he (Monteiro) is right because the commission has been mandated not to interfere into the ongoing legal process here," Timorese commission member Cirilo J. Cristovao told The Jakarta Post soon after the meeting Monday. The commission is on its first visit to the new nation after it was created Aug. 11, 2005.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao have said they will work toward reconciliation rather than prosecute those believed to be the masterminds of the gross human rights violations. Any prosecutions could involve bringing high-ranking Indonesian Military officers to an international tribunal, as activists have suggested.

Monteiro leads the prosecution team of the UN-sanctioned Serious Crimes Unit, which deals with alleged crimes against humanity. Cristovao said the general prosecutor had so far handed more than 86 cases involving pro-Jakarta militiamen to Timor Leste's special panel for serious crimes. Eighty-three of the 86 cases have been legally processed. The prosecutors, however, did not submit cases against several Indonesian Military figures because "they reside outside of our jurisdiction".

Cristovao said the commission would review all the legal documents issued by Timor Leste's serious crime unit. "Similarly, we have already reviewed all the legal documents issued by Indonesia's prosecutors and ad hoc human rights tribunals," he said. He said the commission's mandate only enabled it to give recommendations to both administrations, "and let them deal with the cases with regards to their own national legal systems".

In 2002, Monteiro indicted and issued arrest warrants for several Indonesian generals, including former Indonesian armed forces chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and former martial law commander Maj. Gen. (ret) Kiki Syahnakrie. Syahnakrie was assigned to stop the widespread violence, looting and destruction of buildings by pro-Indonesian militias shortly after the independence supporters won the referendum. However, there is evidence TNI troops took part in the violence.

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