Legal system incapable of providing justice to rights victims – Kontras

Kompas – April 7, 2008
Eurico Guterres in court
Eurico Guterres in court

Jakarta – With the release of all defendants charged over gross human rights violations in East Timor and Tanjung Priok, rights activists are calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono review how gross human rights cases are being handled. They also reminded the president of the promise he made to the families of victims on March 26.

This was conveyed by Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Usman Hamid on Saturday April 5 in Jakarta. Hamid said that he is disappointed with the release of the defendants charged over gross human rights violations, both those involved in the East Timor and as the Tanjung Priok case, as well the stand taken by the Attorney General who has stopped all investigations into past gross human rights violations.

Whereas when President Yudhoyono met with Kontras and family members of victims of violence and gross human rights violations he declared his support for resolving all such cases. Moreover during the meeting, the president promised that he would hold a special cabinet meeting to discuses the issue. The meeting was to involve the Attorney General and the chief of the Indonesian national police (Kompas, 27/3 and 28/3).

Hamid said that the release of Eurico Guterres represents a continuation of impunity by the state provided to human rights violators. “The legal system is incapable of providing justice to victims of gross human rights violations”, he said.

Hamid went on to say that there are certain circles that are saying that it is unfair that blame for the gross human rights violations that occurred in East Timor be entirely placed on the shoulders of Guterres and former East Timor governor Abilio Soares. “But the question is, it’s also unfair because there was no initiative to show who was most responsible for the East Timor cases,” asserted Hamid.

As of yesterday afternoon meanwhile, Guterres was still being held at Cipinang prison in Jakarta. According to Mahendradatta, a member of Guterres’ team of lawyers, the prosecutor’s office has not yet received the Supreme Court decision that found in favour of a request for a judicial review by the former commander of the East Timor pro-integration militia. The decision on the judicial review was read out on March 14.

The panel of judges hearing the judicial review declared that Guterres has been found not guilty of committing the crimes contained in the indictment presented by the public prosecutor and therefore released Guterres from all charges.

Guterres’ team of lawyers headed by Suhardi Somomoeljono plan to go to the Central Jakarta District Court later today to request a copy of the Supreme Court’s verdict. (idr/VIN)

[Translated by James Balowski.]