Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Team formed to probe Tanjung Priok killings

JAKARTA (JP): Attorney General Marzuki Darusman established on Monday a team of state prosecutors to investigate the 1984 Tanjung Priok human rights abuse in North Jakarta.

"The investigation, which will start later this week, is based on an inquiry report from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). The investigation is due in three months," Marzuki said after installing the 40 team members at his office.

"The team will first ask the commission to clarify several items on the report. Meanwhile, the names of the suspects will be announced after the investigation begins," he said.

The rights commission handed the report to the Attorney General's Office last month. A source close to the investigation said the inquiry recommended 23 names of those considered responsible for the incident.

The 23 suspects include military officers, whose ranks were between private and general. They reportedly include former vice president Gen. (ret) Try Sutrisno and former Armed Forces (ABRI) chief Gen. (ret) L.B. Moerdani.

Try was the Jakarta Military commander at the time of the incident, while Moerdani was the Armed Forces chief. Try later served as vice president from 1988 to 1993.

Both Try and Moerdani have repeatedly dismissed accusations that they instructed troops to fire shots at protesters.

The 1984 violence erupted following religious sermons at the Tanjung Priok Rawa Badak Mosque, which were critical of the government.

The rights commission said in its report that there were 33 known fatalities in the incident, including 14 people whose identities remain unknown and a Chinese-Indonesian family of eight and their servant. The report also states that at least 55 people were injured during the incident.

The commission concluded that serious human rights violations occurred, including summary killings, unlawful arrest and detention, torture, and enforced and involuntarily disappearances.

The commission concluded that the violence was the responsibility of those military personnel present on the ground during the violence, their operational commanders and the military's top brass at the time of the incident.

The coordinator of the investigation team, M.A. Rachman, said the team would use the government regulation in lieu of Law No. 1/1991 on the human rights tribunal, pending the President's approval of a new bill on a human rights trial, which was endorsed by legislators.

Rachman, who is also the deputy attorney for general crimes, said the team would first summon several lower-ranking military officers involved in the case and the victims to testify.

"After we have stronger evidence, we will make public the names of the suspects," he said.

Rachman said that similar to the investigation on the 1999 human rights abuse in East Timor, the team would be supervised by human rights experts.

"We will be supervised by three experts from the now defunct team of experts for the East Timor abuse case," he said. (bby)