Court-martialled Indonesian soldiers admit torturing detainees in Aceh
January 26, 1999

Yahoo! News

JAKARTA, Jan 26 (AFP) - Four soldiers admitted to a military tribunal in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh Tuesday that they had tortured detained villagers in an incident which left five dead, a report said.

The four privates, identified as Amsir, 29, Muhun Harahap, 31, Manalom Simatupang, 26, and Effendi, 35, made the admission during a court martial in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, the Antara news agency said.

The admission was made after the testimony of a surviving victim, Jamluddin, 40, was read out to the court over the incident earlier this month when troops burst into a detention center containing 40 villagers.

Four other witnesses also testified, the agency said.

The witnesses, who were not identified, told the court that they had seen the accused beat the civilian detainees with rifle butts, wooden sticks and electrical cords.

The military prosecutor has accused the defendants and other soldiers of having tortured the 40 villagers detained in Lhokseumawe, 300 kilometres (185 miles) east of the capital Banda Aceh.

Five of the detainees died and 19 others were hospitalized with serious injuries.

The tortured detainees had been arrested during army raids intended to capture the alleged leader of an Acehnese separatist group and to find two soldiers believed to have been kidnapped by rebels.

The raids followed the killing of seven soldiers and the abduction of two military officers late in December.

Another 22 soldiers also believed to be implicated in the torture attack are still being detained in Lhokseumawe.

The Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh) movement has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Aceh since the mid-1970s.

The separate court martial of Major Bayu Najib, the former executive officer of one of the battalions involved in the torture-killings, is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

The military prosecutor has called for a four-year jail sentence for Najib and his dismissal from the armed forces.

The court martial of the four privates is to resume Wednesday.