US monitoring Indonesian military abuse trial

US monitoring Indonesian military abuse trial
The Straits Times, 14 January 2011


WASHINGTON - The United States is closely monitoring the trial of three Indonesian soldiers accused of torturing two Papuans, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Thursday.

'It's vitally important for Indonesia to reform its security forces and hold those forces to high standards, in terms of individual conduct and human rights,' Mr Crowley said. 'We will be closely monitoring these cases.'

The soldiers appeared on Thursday before a military tribunal, after the online broadcast of a video showing the torture of civilians. They were charged only with disobeying orders.

In the video, posted on YouTube last year, soldiers place a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man as part of an interrogation about the location of weapons.

The Indonesian government had pledged to rein in military abuses in the regions such as Papua and the Maluku islands in return for renewed US military exchanges.

'We're going to hold Indonesia to those commitments,' Mr Crowley said. The soldiers face a maximum sentence of two and half years in jail.