22 May 2003

General on Aceh duty again skips his trial for rights abuses

JAKARTA (JP): Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, who is accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor, had failed to appear before the human rights court here on Wednesday for the third time in succession because he is helping supervise a major military assault in Aceh province, AFP reported.

Chief judge Marni Emmy Mustafa said the court would issue a ruling next month in the case, although it was not clear if this would amount to a verdict.

"To maintain the authority of the court, because the trial has already been postponed three times and enough time has been accorded to the defendant, on June 5 the council of judges will come out with a ruling," Marni said.

Adam Damiri headed the military command overseeing East Timor in 1999 and is now posted to military headquarters.

His lawyer Hotma Sitompul told the court that Adam cannot attend because of his duties in Aceh, where the government Monday launched a major assault on separatist rebels.

Adam is one of two generals still awaiting verdicts in cases linked to the military-backed militia violence against independence supporters in East Timor in 1999.

No-one could ever accuse a TNI general of inconsistent behaviour.

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