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Indonesia: ICRC visits 18 East Timorese prisoners

04-11-1999 News Release 99/44

On 28 October an ICRC team visited 18 East Timorese prisoners held in Cipinang prison in Jakarta. The prisoners, who had recently been transferred from Kedung Pane prison in Semarang, Central Java, are among the 80 who are being considered for release by President Abdurrahman Wahid as his first move to promote national reconciliation. Clemency is to be granted once the House of Representatives has given its approval.

" If they wish to go back to East Timor, the ICRC could facilitate their return, " said ICRC Deputy Head of Delegation Philippe Guinand, who led the team.

The visit was carried out in accordance with standard ICRC procedures, including private interviews with prisoners and a tour of the entire prison premises.

All 18 prisoners but one had been without news of their families since violence erupted in East Timor in early September. To help them get back in touch with their relatives, ICRC delegates asked them to fill in cards with the words " I am in good health " printed on them. The cards will soon be sent to their addressees.

Besides these prisoners, the ICRC has visited all people detained by the INTERFET forces in East Timor for more than 96 hours. So far 70 people have received at least one such visit. The ICRC also visited an Indonesian officer detained by the Falintil movement. The officer was subsequently released and handed over to the Indonesian military.