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The BBC's Mark Devenport in New York
"Indonesia will be relieved that senior UN figures seem cautious to get involved"
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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 10:06 GMT
I worked for peace - Wiranto

Pro-justice marchers help an unconscious protester

Former Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto has defended his role in East Timor, attacking reports that implicate him in atrocities.

East Timor
A report by Indonesia's human rights commission has recommended that he and five other senior generals be prosecuted over their involvement in the violence that followed last year's referendum on independence, and in which at least 250 people died.

A report by a UN-appointed commission of inquiry has also blamed Indonesia's top military command for ordering attacks in East Timor, calling for an international tribunal of judges who could try and sentence those charged with atrocities.

Like a good soldier, I am going to continue to fight for the truth
General Wiranto
General Wiranto said the reports ignored his efforts to encourage peace in East Timor in the run-up to the UN-sponsored referendum last August.

"(The armed forces) have encouraged the peace agreement in Dili after they had fought one another for more than 20 years. We have also promoted the laying down of arms at that time.

"We provided security for around 4,000 foreigners, reporters, observers and UNAMET (the UN Mission in East Timor) for more than four months and no-one was killed," he said.

General Wiranto: Defiant at Tuesday's news conference
"I pushed all factions in East Timor to change from fighting with guns into becoming politicians without arms."

General Wiranto added that the Indonesian human rights commission had not taken into account any of the information provided by the military and other witnesses.

And he criticised as illegal the decision to make public the names of the senior generals, who will now be further investigated by the attorney general.

Accusation of bias

"Like a good soldier, I am going to continue to fight for the truth," he said. Asked after a meeting of senior ministers if he would step down, General Wiranto said only: "I don't want to (answer questions) based on assumptions and ifs."

The head of Wiranto's legal defence team, Adnan Buyung Nasution, also attacked the report.

"There is no evidence, no witnesses and no documents to show that Wiranto has done anything wrong," he said.

"The report reflects a hatred against military officers."

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has said he will seek General Wiranto's resignation when he returns to Jakarta in two weeks' time.

International tribunal

On Monday, the UN made clear that Indonesia should be allowed to deal with alleged human rights abuses in East Timor before any international tribunal into the matter is considered.

General Wiranto, left, and President Wahid Will the president, right, sack the former army chief?
In a covering letter to the UN report, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "encouraged by the commitment shown by ... Wahid to uphold the law".

The five-member UN team spent nine days in East Timor last November and gave testimony on killings, rape and the herding of at least 200,000 East Timorese out of the country, mainly to Indonesian West Timor, where refugee camps were under the control of anti-independence militias.

"The intimidation, terror, destruction of property, displacement and evacuation of people would not have been possible without the active involvement of the Indonesian army, and the knowledge and approval of the top military command," the report said.

The Indonesian military released a report on Friday based on its own inquiry into the violence, in which it said there was no evidence to support allegations that it organised and encouraged the unrest.

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See also:
01 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Timor tribunal on hold
01 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: General Wiranto
31 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Wiranto faces sack over Timor
01 Feb 00 |  UK
Indonesian president visits UK
28 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Wiranto 'responsible' for Timor violence
24 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
General denies Timor atrocities
18 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian general to help Timor probe
29 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia 'responsible' for Timor destruction
27 Oct 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Timor enclave reduced to wasteland

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