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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 15:30 GMT
Megawati approves East Timor judges
Unrest in East Timor
More than 1,000 people died in the violence
By BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has approved 18 judges for a special court to try cases arising out of the massive wave of death and violence surrounding East Timor's vote for independence in 1999.

The process has so far been characterised by a series of long delays and the president's signature came after being given the list of names by the supreme court last month.

map of East Timor
All the judges are legal experts from universities around the country who will work alongside 12 career judges.

The trial of those responsible for the gross human rights abuses in East Timor was due to begin on Tuesday, but this will not be possible.

A senior official dealing with the human rights tribunals told the BBC the first hearings would probably not begin until February.

Systematic violence

It is already two years since the Indonesian human rights commission submitted the results of its investigation into the killings in East Timor during a vote for independence. It concluded the violence was systematic and well-planned; at least 1,000 people were killed.

General Wiranto speaking at a news conference, 9 January 2002
General Wiranto says the trials are unfair
It recommended more than 30 military, police and civilian officials be put on trial, including the armed forces chief at the time, General Wiranto, and five other generals.

But since state prosecutors took over the case the list has been whittled down to just 18 names.

Most significantly, General Wiranto is no longer to face trial.

And with the continuing delays in setting up the special tribunals, there has been concern that the authorities were hoping to bury the whole issue.

The appointment of the judges now is a step forward, but there's still a long way to go before justice can be done.

See also:

09 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Wiranto attacks Timor trials as 'unfair'
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 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
UN indicts E Timor massacre suspects
17 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadowy militias of East Timor
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor's 25 turbulent years
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