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President Wahid talks to the BBC's Jonathan Head
"Democracy can be expressed in different ways"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 December, 1999, 14:32 GMT
Wahid: Generals should stand trial

General Wiranto General Wiranto could find himself in the dock


Indonesian generals accused of human rights abuses in East Timor should be put on trial, President Abdurrahman Wahid has said

Speaking during a BBC interview, Mr Wahid said that if commanders had issued orders which led to abuses then they should face justice.

East Timor
"If they issued the orders themselves, if they did the atrocities themselves, then they have to stand trial," Mr Wahid said.

Earlier this month, the Indonesian Defence Minister, Juwano Sudarsono, said senior officers would not have to face court because they were only implementing government policies.

Last week, the Indonesian parliamentary commission investigating atrocities in East Timor said it would summon several generals, including former armed forces chief and Mr Sudarsono's predecessor, General Wiranto.

Wiranto singled out


Wahid Mr Wahid has been busy since he became president
Independence leader Xanana Gusmao also singled out General Wiranto as responsible for the violence that followed East Timor's independence vote in August.

"I believe that General Wiranto, as [then] minister for defence, was responsible," Mr Gusmao said at the end of November.

He said the wave of destruction had been planned and organised, and that he had asked General Wiranto several times to prevent it.

Mr Gusmao also blamed senior officers in Indonesia's elite special forces command, Kopassus, for the mayhem carried out by anti-independence militiamen.

"I have to say that the Kopassus generals were very, very involved in the destruction," he added.

Political violence


No independence for Aceh, Mr Wahid says
United Nations officials and a state-appointed Indonesian investigative team also said that the army and police had orchestrated the September rampage.

General Wiranto stepped down as armed forces chief last month, and he has been appointed co-ordinating minister for political and security affairs in President Wahid's month-old government.

About 100,000 East Timorese died in 24 years of Indonesian rule.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes in terror after the independence ballot and many were forcibly sent to camps in Indonesian-held West Timor.

Aceh: 'No chance'


Suharto "will be pardoned"
On the question of independence for another of Indonesia's trouble spots, the province of Aceh, President Wahid said his government's policy remained unchanged. He said there was no chance of independence.

"Democracy can be expressed in different way - as long as we are open, as long as we have discussions, as long as we have dialogue," he said.

Pardon for Suharto

Mr Wahid was also asked whether his government would give in to pressure from within Indonesia and abroad to bring former President Suharto to justice for involvement in corruption.

President Wahid said he should be pardoned, no matter what the outcome of an official inquiry is.

"He has to undergo an investigation whether he is involved or not.

"Whether he is wrong, whether he does something bad or not ... as a president he will be pardoned if he returns it.

"The condition: If he returns the fortune that he got."

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia 'responsible' for Timor destruction
10 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Calls for UN tribunal on Timor
27 Oct 99 |  Asia-Pacific
UN wants $200m for East Timor
16 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
UN effort in East Timor under fire

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