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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Jakarta tribunal on 1984 killings
By Rachel Harvey
BBC Jakarta correspondent

A human rights tribunal in Indonesia is beginning hearings in the cases of soldiers accused of involvement in the killing of Muslim protestors in September 1984.

Troops in north Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port area opened fire on demonstrators protesting against moves by former President Suharto to clamp down on Muslim activists.

Ten Indonesian military officers sit in the dock in Central Jakarta District Court in Jakarta
The hearings are designed to address past human rights abuses
Nobody knows exactly how many people died, and estimates vary between 18 and several hundred. Many others were detained and allegedly tortured.

It has taken nearly two decades but finally the families of the victims of those who died have a chance for some kind of justice.

Fourteen people have been charged in connection with the killings, including the current head of Indonesia's special forces, Major General Sriyanto Muntrasan.

The first 11 suspects called before the special tribunal will face charges of gross human rights violations.

The remaining three are due to be tried at a later, as yet unspecified, date. The tribunal is the same legal body which recently completed a series of trials in connection with the violence which marred East Timor's independence vote.

Six people were found guilty but they were given relatively light sentences, prompting criticism from human rights groups and some foreign governments.

Campaigners are concerned that the Tanjung Priok hearings could follow the same pattern.

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