Wed, 17 May 2000

Wiranto grilled for 7 hours over Timor violence

JAKARTA (JP): Former Indonesian Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto said he was relieved to "spell out the truth" of last year's violence in East Timor while being interrogated on Tuesday by a special Attorney General's Office investigative team.

Wiranto was questioned for nearly seven hours over his alleged role in the East Timor mayhem as the then military chief/minister of defense and security before, after and during the historic Aug. 30 ballot.

Speaking to journalists after the questioning, a coy Wiranto spoke about the questioning, which was conducted in a "relaxed" atmosphere.

Wiranto admitted that the violence which occurred was not totally unexpected but was almost unavoidable.

"It had been estimated that whichever party lost in the ballot there would be dissatisfaction and outrage at the result. I had warned the government of this critical risk given the situation in the restive area," he said.

While the destruction in East Timor following the ballot was immense, Wiranto maintained that he had largely done what was required as spelled out in the May 1999 New York Agreement which laid the grounds for the UN-supervised ballot and obliged the National Police to insure a secure climate for the ballot to take place.

"Truthfully speaking, the Indonesian government, in this case the military and police, did its job successfully in safeguarding the ballot and in taking full responsibility for the United Nations (UN) personnel's safety there."

During the questioning led by Deputy Attorney General for General Crimes M.A. Rahman, Wiranto was asked 14 questions.

"After waiting for months, I am relieved because today I have spelled out the truth," Wiranto remarked.

Wiranto is among 21 officers and officials to be summoned in the case.

This is the first time Wiranto has been summoned by the Attorney General's Office investigative team. He was previously questioned in December by an inquiry established by the government-sanctioned National Commission on Human Rights.

The inquiry's final report alleged that Wiranto and several senior officers should be held accountable for the violence in East Timor.

Wiranto is due to be questioned again on Tuesday.

Wiranto's alleged involvement resulted in his suspension in February as coordinating minister for political affairs and security.

Wiranto himself on Tuesday also confirmed that he had no intention of retaining the Cabinet post.

"After contemplating for the last four months, I've decided to leave the Cabinet for good. I will tell this to the President the first chance I get to meet him," he said reading a written statement, which he later admitted had been prepared a day before.

One of the consultants of the legal defense team employed by Wiranto and other military officers to represent them, former minister of justice Muladi, said the resignation was Wiranto's own personal decision and not taken under duress.

"He considers that this country needs a solid ministry to stabilize the political and security situation. That is the reason for his resignation," Muladi announced.

"He will become an ordinary person and will abandon his official residence and other facilities provided," he added. (01)