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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Indonesian's Timor trial setback
The highest-ranking Indonesian soldier to go on trial over human rights offences in East Timor looked set to walk free after a prosecutor said there was not enough evidence against him.

Major-General Adam Damiri headed the regional command in charge of East Timor in 1999, when it was gripped by violence relating to the former Indonesian province's independence

The collapse of the case against him is likely to stoke criticism from international human rights groups who say Indonesian authorities have not done enough to punish those responsible.

Chief prosecutor Sarani Hozie insisted he had been under no pressure to ask for the acquittal, according to the state Antara news agency.

"This is purely my own decision," he said.

The chief judge said the court would still reconvene on 1 July to hear a statement from Mr Damiri before passing its judgment.

Adam Damiri was the last and most senior of 18 soldiers to go on trial over alleged offences in East Timor.

Most have been acquitted, and the five who have been found guilty are all free pending appeals.

Mr Damiri's hearing should have been held several weeks ago, but he repeatedly failed to turn up, citing the pressure of duties in Aceh province, where the military is mounting a major operation against separatist rebels.

Adam Damiri was accused of failing to prevent his troops from committing atrocities during the violence following East Timor's vote for independence in August 1999.

The overwhelming vote to cede from Indonesia, which ended Jakarta's 24 year rule there, coincided with a civil conflict which left more than 1,000 people dead.

Prosecutors in the Timorese capital of Dili have launched their own war crimes tribunal, indicting more than 260 people for crimes during the independence struggle, including the former chief of the Indonesian military, General Wiranto.

However, it is unlikely that Indonesia will extradite any suspects to face trial.

But prosecutors in Dili said on Thursday that they had filed their first charges against an Indonesian man recently arrested inside East Timor.

The Serious Crimes Unit said it had charged Beny Ludji, who allegedly led a militia unit in East Timor, with the murder of independence campaigner Guido Alves Correia.




SEE ALSO:
Indonesian army chief acquitted
22 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Celebration and despair in E Timor
20 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Ex-leader testifies on E Timor
20 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian soldier convicted over Timor
27 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor 1975 to 2002
17 May 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: East Timor
10 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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