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Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Indonesia backs East Timor trial
Unrest in East Timor
East Timor was ravaged by violence in August 1999
By the BBC's Simon Ingram

The Indonesian military says it will co-operate with the trial later this month of military commanders accused of being behind the deaths of hundreds of people in East Timor in 1999.

map of East Timor
Court officials say a list of judges has been drawn up to hear the cases against 19 suspects, including three generals, accused of orchestrating the wave of violence that swept East Timor during the final months of Indonesian rule.

Reports from Jakarta quote the armed forces spokesman, Air Vice-Marshall Graito Usodo, as saying the military would support the trial so long as it was in line with Indonesian law.

More than two years after much of East Timor was laid waste by pro-Indonesian militiamen, some of the army commanders believed to have directed their murderous rampage should soon be called to account for their actions.

Key trial

The trial of three generals and other senior military and police officers before a special human-rights court in Jakarta has been eagerly-awaited - especially by Western governments, which have made the hearings a precondition for the resumption of full economic and military ties with Indonesia.

East Timor election, August 2001
East Timor held its first free elections last August
But there are many observers who wonder whether the trial will do any more than whitewash the army's conduct during the run-up and immediate aftermath to East Timor's referendum on independence.

In that context, the declaration of support for the judicial process issued by Air Vice-Marshall Graito Usodo is likely to be given a cautious welcome.

Despite his comments, the defendants themselves appear confident that the trial will prove their innocence.

Major-General Adam Damiri, who oversaw the military command in East Timor during the period in question, said on Wednesday that the evidence would show he had been only following procedures.

General Damiri's comments served to strengthen doubts in some quarters that the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri has the political will to prosecute thoroughly the bulging dossier of human rights crimes committed in East Timor.

Megawati has until now enjoyed close ties to the military, and there is little evidence to suggest she is ready to jeopardise that relationship, despite the international pressure being exerted on her to see justice done.

See also:

11 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
E Timor militiamen convicted
30 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Timor's historic vote
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor's first election
27 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
UN indicts E Timor massacre suspects
31 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor's legacy of trauma
10 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor militia leader arrested
17 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadowy militias of East Timor
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor's 25 turbulent years
24 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: East Timor
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