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Timor-Leste Issues Warrant For Indonesia's Wiranto

Timor-Leste Court Issues Warrant For Former Indonesian Defence Minister - UN

A special court issued an arrest warrant today for retired Gen. Wiranto, the former Defence Minister and commander of Indonesian Armed Forces under indictment along with seven others for crimes against humanity in 1999 in Timor-Leste, according to the United Nations mission there.

The Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) in Timor-Leste indicted General Wiranto in February 2003, charging him with command responsibility for murder, deportation and persecution committed in the context of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population in East Timor.

"The issuance of the Wiranto warrant is an important step in our continuing efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the violence against the civilian population of East Timor in 1999," said Nicholas Koumjian, Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes.

"It sends a message that the victims have not been forgotten and that the international community will not tolerate impunity for those responsible for crimes against humanity, whoever they are," he added.

According to the SCU, international law holds commanders criminally responsible "if they knew or had reason to know of the commission of crimes against humanity by those under their effective control but failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent the crimes or punish the perpetrators."

An arrest warrant was issued last November for co-defendant Lt. Col. Yayat Sudrajat while rulings by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor are still expected on applications for six other warrants, the SCU said.

Since the SCU began its work, following violence that flared up after a 1999 UN-sponsored referendum, 83 indictments have been filed with the Special Panel and charges are pending against 313 persons, but most are believed to be outside Timor-Leste.

Since 2001 the Special Panel has convicted 50 defendants and acquitted two. Many have been indicted in connection with the murders or disappearances of 10 East Timorese staff members for what was then the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

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