Indonesia: East Timor trial delivers neither truth nor justice

'We are deeply disappointed that flaws in these important trials addressing crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999 mean that justice has not been delivered and the truth has not been revealed,' said Richard Bunting, Communications Director at Amnesty International.

'The trials of 16 other suspects, including several senior military officials, are still in progress. We are seriously concerned that the indictments issued and initial proceedings in these cases are similarly flawed.'

Today, the former Regional Police Commander, Brigadier General Timbul Silaen, who was responsible for security around the 1999 ballot on independence, was acquitted. Five Indonesian military, police and government officials who are accused of failing to prevent a massacre in Suai on 6 September 1999, were also found not guilty. The former Governor of East Timor, Abilio Jose Osorio Soares was found guilty yesterday of committing crimes against humanity by failing to control subordinates and sentenced to three years' imprisonment.

Amnesty International and JSMP believe that the Indonesian prosecutors failed in their duty under international law to bring effective prosecutions against the accused by presenting indictments which did not correspond to allegations about the conduct of the accused, ignoring relevant evidence and by presenting cases which deliberately failed to prove the widespread and systematic nature of the violations that occurred in East Timor.

The two organisations have documented a succession of serious procedural and other failures which meant that the trials failed to deliver justice or reveal the truth about the involvement of members of the Indonesian security forces and civilian authorities in perpetrating crimes against humanity and other serious crimes in East Timor in 1999.

- The indictments presented a version of events which did not reflect the widespread and systematic nature of the crimes which took place in East Timor in 1999 and failed to address the role of the Indonesian security forces in setting up and supporting militia in East Timor.

- Key evidence regarding the direct involvement of the Indonesian security forces in committing serious crimes was not presented to the court. Such evidence has been well attested in expert investigations including by Indonesia's own Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP-HAM), the United Nations (UN) International Commission of Inquiry and in investigations carried out by the UN Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor.

- A lack of experience among key officials, including judges and prosecutors, was reflected in sloppily drafted indictments and questions and cross-examinations which failed to address the evidence effectively.

- Victims and witnesses summoned to testify at the trials were not provided with adequate protection. Several witnesses from East Timor refused to appear before the court because they were not confident that their security could be guaranteed.

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