Jakarta seeks 10 years for ex-army chief in Timor

 

Indonesian prosecutors is demanding that a former military chief in East Timor be jailed for 10 years for failing to stop violence leading up to territory's vote to split from Jakarta's rule in 1999.

One of the charges relates to a church massacre in the town of Liquica in April of that year. Chief prosecutor Gabriel Simangunsong said the defendant had failed to protect pro-independence Timorese leading up to the ballot.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of death. "The defendant...did not try to protect the victims," Simangunsong told a special Jakarta human rights court set up by Indonesia to account for the violence.

Suratman has denied any wrongdoing. Pro-Jakarta militia groups, with backing from elements within the Indonesian military, carried out a campaign of intimidation before the poll and then rampaged when it showed East Timorese had voted to break away.

The United Nations estimates 1,000 people were killed before and after the vote. Suratman, a colonel at the time, is among the last two of 18 suspects to face trial in Indonesia over the mayhem.

Convictions have been imposed on two civilians and three security officers, including Suratman's successor. But human rights groups have criticised the large number of acquittals and said sentencing had been too lenient.

Major-General Adam Damiri, the last defendant on trial, is the highest ranking suspect and was regional military chief at the time, with responsibility for East Timor.