26 Nov 2002

Lawyer for Washington Post says Indonesian military failed to follow procedure regarding media compl

6:19 pm on 26 November 2002

The lawyer for the Washington Post in a defamation suit brought by Indonesia's military chief, has criticised the army for being heavy handed and failing to follow procedure regarding complaints against the media.

Todung Mulya Lubis says General Endriartono Sutarto did not file a right of reply to the Washington Post over its article which claimed senior military officers planned August's ambush attack in Papua Province which killed two Americans and an Indonesian - all teachers working for the Freeport mine company.

General Sutarto is seeking 1 billion US dollars as well as an apology from the paper for implicating the army in the ambush which he says was a Free Papua or OPM operation.

Todung says the Washington Post is being unfairly targetted and that the implication is the Indonesian military is trying to hide something.

He says every opportunity was given to General Sutarto to dispute the allegations raised by the paper. .

"General Sutarto does have the right to reply and ask for correction, he hasn't done that so far, yeah, so I think that it's not the fault of the Washington Post. The military is used to all kinds of reporting and as long as that person is publicised and they still have a right of reply and ask for correction... that's the normal practice of the press."

Todung Mulya Lubis in Jakarta.