Rights groups shocked at Indonesian acquittals

Indonesian court acquits six officials accused of atrocities in East Timor.

Indonesian courts outraged human rights groups Thursday by acquitting six officials accused of human rights violations in East Timor.

The acquittals come a day after the courts convicted the former governor of East Timor of allowing massacres but then sentenced Abilio Soares to only three years in prison.

Soares said he would appeal the verdict. Prosecutors said they would appeal the sentence because they consider it too lenient.

"East Timorese no longer believe in the justice system in Indonesia," said Aniceto Neves, head of the rights group Yayasan HAK, in the East Timorese capital of Dili.

Rights groups including Amnesty International and the Judicial System Monitoring Program have called for a separate court to prosecute atrocities in East Timor. The atrocities include killing, burning and looting after East Timor voted for independence in a United Nations plebiscite.

"The crimes committed in East Timor during 1999 were of such a serious nature that they cannot go unpunished, but the prospect of Indonesia being able to fulfill its responsibility to deliver a credible and effective justice process is now remote," the two rights group said in a statement.

On Thursday, the court acquitted two active colonels and two majors in the Indonesian army, a retired army colonel, and Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen, Indonesia's last chief of police in East Timor.

The United States cut military ties with Indonesia because of the events in East Timor.