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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
Jakarta rejects Timor convictions
Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri
One of the four was accused of gross human rights crimes
Indonesia's appeal court has overturned the convictions of four security officials found guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

The ruling means no Indonesian security official faces jail for the violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead.

The court also cut in half a 10-year sentence for notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres.

Human rights groups attacked the ruling and said Jakarta had never wanted justice done over its former province.

The four cleared men include former regional military commander Major General Adam Damiri, who was last year found guilty of "gross human rights violations" and sentenced to three years in jail.

The other men cleared are ex-military chief Colonel Nur Muis, former police Chief Commissioner Hulman Gultom and Lieutenant Colonel Soejarwo.

The appeal court reportedly handed down its judgement last month, and the grounds for its decision were not immediately clear.

Court criticism

They had all been found guilty by a special human rights court which Indonesia set up to deflect international criticism of its handling of the violence in East Timor, triggered by the former province's 1999 vote for independence.

Human rights groups doubted the court from the start. They now point out that of 18 original defendants, only two have now been found guilty - both of which are ethnic Timorese.

These include Guterres, who human rights groups have alleged acted with the complicity of the Indonesian security forces.

Although convicted, he is still free pending an appeal.

The other man, former governor Abilio Soares, began serving a three year jail sentence in July.

A BBC correspondent in Jakarta, Tim Johnston, says many Indonesians still regard the loss of East Timor as a blow to their national pride and pursuing those responsible for the carnage has never been popular domestically.

Many of the military officers who served in East Timor in 1999 have been promoted, our correspondent says, and one of the men acquitted in the recent court decision is currently running the ethics programme at Indonesia's army staff training college.

One human rights campaigner, Hendardi, told BBC News Online the appeal court's verdicts were a sham.

"There is no justice in Indonesia," he said.

The BBC's Tim Johnston reports from Jakarta
"The loss of East Timor is still a raw wound to many Indonesians"

Ex-Timor governor starts sentence
17 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Surprise at E Timor guilty verdict
06 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian army chief acquitted
22 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian soldier convicted over Timor
27 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: East Timor
10 Mar 03  |  Country profiles

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