Wed, 10 Sep 2003

NGO worried abouth legal loopholes in Priok case

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The prosecution of those alleged to have taken part in the massacre of at least 33 people by the Indonesian Military in Tanjung Priok in 1984 would be hampered by a lack of clear guidelines, a human rights watchdog has warned.

Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) coordinator Ifdhal Kasim said Tuesday that the prosecutors would have difficulties presenting evidence and witnesses.

"Besides, the 19-year-old case must be dropped because, according to the Criminal Code, all cases that are older than 12 years and have not been tried, automatically expire."

Ifdhal also said the prosecutors might fail to identify who was the most responsible because the first suspects to be tried were low-ranking soldiers carrying out orders from above.

"In a bid to ensure a fair trial, we also recommend the court not allow the defendants to wear their institution's uniforms because the trial is on them themselves, not on their institution."

The first hearing would be held at the Jakarta Human Rights Court on Sept. 15, in which a group of soldiers face charges of crimes against humanity.

The shooting outside a mosque in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, on Sept. 12, 1984, claimed 33 lives and injured 55 others, according to an investigation conducted by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in 2001.

The Attorney General's Office has declared 14 active and retired military personnel suspects in the case. The highest ranked officer in the list of suspects is Commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) Maj. Gen. Sriyanto Muntrassan, who at that time was chief of the North Jakarta military district operational unit.