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Fifth man dies after torture in Aceh

Agence France Presse - January 18, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – A man who was tortured by soldiers while under detention in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh has died in hospital, bringing the death toll from the incident to five, a hospital employee said Monday.

"One of the four seriously wounded, named Ayub, died at the intensive care unit on January 17 at 5pm," said an employee of the state hospital in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, who identified himself only as Zakaria.

He was referring to four seriously injured men who were brought in with 16 other injured men on January 9, following torture by about 50 soldiers on some 40 civilians detained by security authorities in Lhokseumawe following anti-rebel raids there. Four other detainees had died following the violence.

Zakaria could not say the exact cause of the latest death but he said most of those injured, including the four seriously injured, had been admitted with serious head wounds.

The attack on the detainees who were kept at a building belonging to a youth organisation near the local military command, caused a public outrage that has led to apologies by local and central military leaders.

A total of 27 soldiers have been detained following the attack and Armed Forces Chief General Wiranto has said they will be brought to a military tribunal. The court martial of five of the 27 soldiers – one infantry major and four privates – began on Saturday in Banda Aceh, the main city in Aceh some 300 kilometres west of Lhokseumawe.

The tortured detainees were arrested during anti-rebel raids intended to capture the alleged leader of a separatist group and to find two soldiers believed to have been kidnapped by rebels. The military operation followed the killing of seven Indonesian soldiers and the abduction of two officers late in December.