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Victim testifies as military trial resumes

Agence France Presse - January 8, 1999

Jakarta – A 28-year-old political activist testified at a court martial here Friday that he was subjected to repeated electric shock treatment after being abducted during the last months of the Suharto regime.

Speaking as a witness at the trial of 11 members of the elite special forces unit charged with abducting nine activists, Neza Patria said he was subjected to the shocks during a three-day interrogation.

"They asked me if I knew Mega, Gus Dur, Benny Murdani... every time I answered no, I was submitted to shocks," said Neza, one of nine activists the feared Kopassus special forces soldiers are accused of abducting.

He was referring to opposition politician Megawati Sukarnoputri, Moslem leader Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and retired military intelligence chief and Suharto critic Benny Murdani.

Neza, one of three victims in the small court room packed with some 100 journalists, lawyers and observers, at first refused to testify, saying before he did he wanted the military to produce information on 13 missing activists.

Chief military judge Colonel Santoso told Reza he would face legal action if he failed to testify, and added information on the 13 would be unlikely to resurface unless he did. Santoso also rejected arguments put forward by the National Commission on Human Rights last week, which called for the court martial to be halted.

Citing a prosecution argument that the 11 had acted on their own out of concern for national security, the commission had said the trial appeared designed solely to shelter the military high command and make scapegoats out of the accused, seven of them junior officers.

The elite Kopassus was commanded by Prabowo Subianto, a son-in-law of former president Suharto, at the time of the abductions. Prabowo has since been dismissed from the military in connection with the kidnappings and is now in Jordan.

The chief judge asked the 11 accused, standing ramrod straight in their trademark red berets, if they would like to seek legal counsel before the court-martial resumed, but all said no.

Reza told the court that he and fellow activist Aan Rusdianto were grabbed by four men in plain clothes at night from the apartment they shared on March 13, frogmarched downstairs, blindfolded and manacled and driven to an unknown destination.

He said he was interrogated and tortured for three days, before being moved to an unknown place for one day, then spent three months incarcerated in Jakarta's police headquarters before being released.

Asked to identify any of the defendants, he pointed to 36-year-old Captain Yulius Sylvanus. Syvanus however told the court he thought it would have been impossible for Reza to have seen him, as he had met only Aan and used a different vehicle.

"He (Reza) was in the kitchen peeling an apple at the time I opened the door and was met by Aan and he could not have seen me," Sylvanus said. The trial was set to resume later Friday afternoon.

Human rights organizations say a total of 23 activists were abducted in the last months of the rule of former president Suharto, who stepped down in May amid mass protests, but the 11 accused are charged only with the abductions of the nine who have resurfaced. One has been found dead, and 13 others remain missing.