Jakarta under pressure on Xanana


By Jana D.K. in Jakarta and Mitchell Hamilton in Sydney

The Indonesian government is attempting to escape political pressures following the trial of Xanana by creating the false impression that the East Timorese resistance leader has changed his views.

Excerpts from Xanana's defence speech have been published around the world. His trial has been the subject of editorial comment in most of the world's capitals.

The regime appears most worried about the impact on the Indonesian public. It has isolated Xanana and used his government-appointed lawyer, Sudjono, to make it seem that Xanana is admitting guilt.

Nobody except Sudjono has seen Xanana since his trial. The Red Cross has stopped trying to visit prisoners in East Timor because the Indonesian government is not conforming to ICRC criteria for such visits, which include confidentiality of meetings and regular access.

Xanana's isolation is of great concern because of his declaration in his defence speech that he would begin a hunger strike.

Sudjono has handed in an appeal for clemency to the Dili court. In Indonesian law, an appeal for clemency involves an admission of guilt. Sudjono was quoted as telling reporters that the appeal meant that Xanana now recognised the authority of the Indonesian court, which he had rejected in his defence speech. Xanana's signature was not on the appeal.

A similar tactic is being used against Gregono da Cunha Saldanha, who was sentenced last year for allegedly organising the funeral procession in Dili on November 12, 1991, which was attacked by troops, killing more than 200 people.

Saldanha's appeal against a life sentence was

rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court on June 2. The Indonesian news agency Antara quoted Hieronymus Godang, the presiding judge of the Dili court, as saying that the appeal was rejected because Gregono's defence failed to present a memori kasasi (reasons for appeal).

Luhut M.P. Pangaribuan, acting internal director of the Legal Aid Foundation, who headed the team of lawyers which defended Gregono, told Green Left that they were still waiting for information from the High Court on an appeal lodged in August 1992. "How can we lodge a memori kasasi with the Supreme Court, when we have still not received written confirmation that the previous appeal has been rejected?"

He suggested that the authorities might be trying "to get the appeals out of the way as quickly as possible, leaving Gregono with no other course but to appeal to the president for clemency".

Pangaribuan said that the lawyers have not been able to communicate with Gregono for over two months. "Letters we send never reach him. Although I do not know for sure, I do not believe that Gregono would agree to a plea for clemency. As in the Xanana case, the authorities are very anxious that Gregono be seen to make a plea for clemency, which will confirm the court's sentence and be used discredit the defence."

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