Tue, 21 Jan 2003

Policeman gets 3 years for rights crimes

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former Dili police chief Lt. Col. Hulman Gultom was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday by a human rights court for crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

However, like previous convicts, he remained free pending an appeal with the High Court.

Hulman was found guilty of failing to prevent a crime committed by his subordinates and allowing then pro-Jakarta militia members to attack and kill pro-independence East Timorese taking refuge in the house of independence leader Manuel Vegas Carascalao on April 17, 1999.

At least 12 refugees died and dozens were injured in the massacre.

Hulman was also convicted for failing to prevent similar attacks at the Dili Diocese building and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo's residence on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, 1999 respectively.

"We sentenced him to three years in prison for the crimes," said presiding judge Andriani Nurdin.

Hulman said he would appeal the verdict with the High Court.

Prosecutor Nasir A. Maksum had demanded a 10-year prison sentence for Hulman.

According to Law No. 26/2000 on Human Rights Tribunal, a crime against humanity carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Andriani admitted the three-year jail term for Hulman was below the minimum punishment set by the Human Rights Tribunal Law, saying that such a minimum sentence was not in accordance with the judges' sense of justice.

"So we decided to deviate from the Human Rights Tribunal Law," she said.

Hulman claimed that the judges were wrong in thinking that he did not prevent the killings in East Timor in 1999.

"I was always ready to give my life to prevent (any bloody incidents there)," Hulman said.

With Hulman's verdict, the human rights court has handed down 15 verdicts of a total 18 defendants.

Besides Hulman, former Dili military district chief Lt. Col. Soedjarwo, former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares, and former militia leader Eurico Guterres were also convicted.

Soedjarwo was sentenced to five years in prison, Abilio to three years in jail, and Eurico to 10 years in prison.

The court is still to hear three other cases against Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, former Bali-based Udayana military commander overseeing Bali, Nusa Tenggara and the then-East Timor province, former East Timor Military chief Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman, and his successor Brig. Gen. Noer Muis.

Hundreds of innocent people were killed in the run-up, during, and after the United Nations-sponsored referendum in East Timor in 1999, in which the majority of East Timorese voted to break away from Indonesia, which occupied the territory for more than two decades.