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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 11:55 GMT
Wiranto attacks Timor trials as 'unfair'
General Wiranto pictured in 1999
General Wiranto was forced to step down in 2000
Indonesia's former military chief General Wiranto has criticised the forthcoming trials of military officials and militiamen accused of human rights abuses in East Timor.

He said his soldiers had done nothing wrong.

We did not do anything wrong

General Wiranto
Trials of 19 suspects, including three generals, are due to start next week in a special human rights court.

But the hearings, originally scheduled for last month, could well be delayed again because the judges have not yet been named.

General Wiranto was armed forces commander when East Timor voted to break away from Indonesia in August 1999.

The referendum result sparked a bloody rampage by the Indonesian army and Jakarta-backed militias, and the United Nations sent in international peacekeepers to end the violence.

Bias accusation

General Wiranto - who is not himself facing trial, after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence - denied his men had carried out human rights violations.

General Wiranto speaking at a news conference, 9 January 2002
General Wiranto says he will present himself as a witness
"I know exactly what we did there. We did not do anything wrong," he said. "It is not fair to try us ... as human rights abusers."

General Wiranto said he would present himself as a witness at the tribunal, but he said the prosecution case was biased and relied on foreign sources including the United Nations and Australia.

The trials, to take place in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, are eagerly-awaited - especially by Western governments, which have made the hearings a pre-condition for the resumption of full economic and military ties with Indonesia.

map of East Timor
But our correspondent, Simon Ingram, says many observers are questioning whether the trial will do any more than whitewash the army's conduct.

The trials are due to start next Tuesday, but this week the government said it has not yet approved a list of 30 judges nominated to hear the cases.

"Discussions are still in process," said Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda on Monday.

Last month, a United Nations tribunal in East Timor sentenced 10 members of pro-Indonesian militia to jail terms of up to 33 years for human rights atrocities.

Indonesia has not yet carried out any prosecutions.

See also:

03 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia backs East Timor trial
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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