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Retired Indonesia general denies 1999 East Timor crimes

[JURIST] A retired Indonesian general widely blamed for rights abuses committed by pro-Indonesian militias on the former Indonesian island territory of East Timor after an independence referendum in 1999 [PBS backgrounder] told an Indonesian-Timorese truth commission Saturday that it was "senseless and crazy" to blame Indonesia for the crimes. General Wiranto [BBC profile], then head of the Indonesian Army, said that "there was no policy to attack civilians, there were no systematic plans, no genocide or crimes against humanity. Neither was there an act of omission." He insisted that the origin of the troubles went back decades, and that if Indonesia had "had an evil agenda to scuttle the referendum, there would not have been a referendum and there would not have been an independent East Timor."

United Nations sources estimate that some 1000 people died in post-referendum violence, although Indonesia says there were only 100 deaths. Wiranto ran unsuccessfully for president of Indonesia in 2004 and is expected to run again in 2009. The joint Indonesian-Timorese Commission of Truth and Friendship [official website] was set up in 2004. It has no power to punish perpetrators. Reuters has more.

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