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Witness tells court he recognizes soldier

Agence France Presse - January 26, 1999

Jakarta – A soldier told an Indonesian military court Tuesday he believed he recognized one of the 11 soldiers on trial as one of the abductors of three activists.

First Sergeant Siswanto of the East Jakarta military command told the military court that, on March 13 last year, he heard over the radio two members of the outlawed People's Democratic Party (PRD) had been arrested in an area under his command's juristiction.

"The next Saturday (January 14), I was informed that someone was going to hand over three people to the police via my office, but nobody showed up," Siswanto said. A man who did not identify himself by name or unit delivered three blindfolded men on Sunday, he added.

"I recognise the first defendant as the one who delivered the three, but he then had long hair," Siswanto told the court, refering to defendant Captain Bambang Kristiono.

The three activists, who were handed over to a waiting captain from Jakarta police headquarters, were identified as Mugiyanto, Aang Rusdianto and Nezar Patria.

They had been among 23 activists abducted early last year by unidentified men. Some had been detained in solitary confinement for weeks and some also spoke of torture after they were released. One of the 23 was found dead and 13 are listed as missing.

Another witness, Master Sergeant Sutomo, shed little light on the abductions, saying only he happened to be at a particular place when several men he believed were from the armed forces arrested Mugiyanto. He claimed not to recognize any of the defendants. The judge said the trial would resume Thursday.

Rights activisits have already called for a halt to the trial, charging that it is an attempt to cover up the real perpetrators of the crime. They cited the military prosecutor's claim that the defendants, seven of them junior officers, had acted on their own initiative.

All defendants came from the Kopassus special army unit, which the military have accused of involvement in the kidnapping and torture. When the kidnappings took place, the Kopassus was under the command of a son-in-law of former president Suharto, now-retired lieutenant general Prabowo Subianto.

Press reports in August said Prabowo had admitted during a two-week investigation by the military's Officers Honourary Council (DKP) that he ordered the kidnappings. At the end of its investigation on August 24, the DKP discharged Prabowo and two other officers for their role in the abduction and torture of political activists.

The charges against the 11 soldiers relate only to the abduction of nine activists who have since surfaced. There has been no charge of torture. The nine spoke of their abduction, of being held incommunicado for months, of torture and finally of their release being accompanied by death threats should they tell others of their ordeal.