Indonesia: Trial ends in travesty for East Timor

 British aid agencies and human rights organisations have demanded the immediate establishment of an international criminal tribunal for East Timor, following the conviction of former governor Abilio Soares for crimes against Humanity. CAFOD, the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) and the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign (TAPOL) say justice will not be satisfied by the three year sentence handed down to the former governor earlier this week. The three warned that the country needed long-term international support for serious crimes investigations and prosecutions in East Timor, if all forthcoming proceedings in the current Jakarta trials were not to end up travesties of justice aimed at protecting senior Indonesian army officers. Soares' conviction is the first in a series of trials of 18 military and police officers, civilian officials and militia members accused of involvement in crimes against humanity in 1999. But the three agencies contend that those being charged are only "expendable scapegoats". "They may bear some responsibility for the appalling violence, but the military masterminds who planned and orchestrated the campaign of brutality are enjoying immunity from prosecution courtesy of the Indonesian authorities," said Clare Danby, CAFOD's East Timor Programme Officer. "Now that Indonesia has failed to bring the real perpetrators to justice, the international community must live up to its responsibility for justice by setting up an international tribunal and fully supporting East Timor's serious crimes process. Senior figures in the Indonesian military and government must face trial." CAFOD, CIIR and TAPOL are concerned about the link between the lack of justice for East Timor and ongoing rights violations in Indonesia. The organisations fear if the international community fails to live up to its promise of justice for East Timor, the practice of impunity will continue in Indonesia. "What happened in East Timor is now happening in areas such as Aceh and West Papua with abuses by the very same military personnel as were responsible for the carnage in East Timor," Ms Danby continued. "Furthermore, the resumption of US military ties with Indonesia is partly dependent on justice for East Timor. It will be a tragedy if the international community not only accepts these trials, but rewards Indonesia by re-engaging with the military and selling it more arms".

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