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Focus-Indonesia Riot Probe Says Ver

Subject: Focus-Indonesia Riot Probe Says Verifies 52 Rapes 


               Focus-Indonesia Riot Probe Says
               Verifies 52 Rapes


               JAKARTA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - An official team probing riots
that helped topple
               Indonesian President Suharto said on Tuesday 52 women were
raped during the
               unrest, and it suspected an army unit led by Suharto's
son-in-law was linked to
               the violence. 

               But investigators said they had not yet established whether
the rapes were
               organised and systematic, and added the armed forces as a
whole could not be
               blamed for rioting last May. 

               "The number of rape victims is 52," Marzuki Darusman, head
of the team, told a
               news conference to mark the release of a long-awaited report
on the rioting. 

               "We have not yet been able to conclude whether these rapes
were a result of the
               excesses of the riots or were organised." 

               Almost 1,200 people, most of them looters trapped in burning
buildings, died in
               the Jakarta riots from May 13 to 15. Other cities,
particularly Solo in Central
               Java, were also badly hit. 

               Indonesia's ethnic Chinese minority were particular targets. 

               Human rights groups said at least 168 women were raped in a
               campaign, sparking widespread anti-Indonesia protests
especially in Chinese
               communities around the world. 

               Indonesian officials, including armed forces chief General
Wiranto, have
               repeatedly insisted no evidence could be found that mass
rapes had taken place.

               "The team found that a large number of the victims were gang
raped," the
               27-page report said, adding that most victims were ethnic

               Rights groups have also said the rioting was organised by
sections of the military.
               Witnesses spoke of burly men with cropped hair arriving in
trucks to encourage
               the violence. Wiranto conceded in August that troops were
"involved" in the

               Darusman said the military should have done more to prevent
the rioting, and
               that while some of the violence had been spontaneous, rogue
elements of the
               military were also involved. 

               "Some of the masses were provoked into rioting by
provocateurs, including
               members of the security apparatus," he said. "The armed
forces as an institution
               was not involved." 

               The report said the government should investigate a meeting
held on May 14 at
               the headquarters of the Kostrad strategic reserve forces,
headed at the time by
               Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto, who is married to one
of Suharto's

               "The government needs to investigate the meeting at the
Strategic Reserves
               Command headquarters on May 14 in order to uncover and to
verify the role
               of...Prabowo and other parties," the report said. 

               Darusman told Reuters the meeting involved both military and
               figures, some of them "primary political actors." 

               Prabowo was dismissed from the armed forces in August after
a probe into the
               kidnapping and torture of anti-Suharto activists by members
of the military. He
               has denied being behind the riots. 

               The May riots exploded amid a deepening economic crisis and
mass protests
               against the 32-year rule of Suharto, and added to the
pressure that toppled him.
               Suharto resigned on May 21 to be replaced by B.J. Habibie. 

               The report said two main processes were behind the riots--
the country's
               worsening economic crisis and conflict amongst Indonesia's
political elites. 

               It recommended that the families of all victims of the riots
should be
               compensated, and the government should also step up its
regulation of
               Indonesia's intelligence agency. 

               The fact-finding team, which includes representatives of
human rights
               organisations as well as government and military officials,
had been due to
               present the report to ministers on Tuesday, but no ministers
showed up. 

               Darusman said that the report had been passed on to the
government, however.
               "We allow the government to read the report and make up
their own minds.
               They will certainly be under public pressure to take
action," he said. 

                            Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.All rights


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