JAKARTA, Feb. 20 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A former Indonesian general who plans to run in the country's upcoming presidential election on Friday expressed no regrets over past abductions of pro-democracy activists by troops under his command.
Prabowo Subianto, a former commander of the Special Forces Command or KOPASSUS, told a luncheon at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents' Club that his "conscience is clear" regarding the abductions, committed amid riots in May 1998 that led to the ouster of former President Suharto.
"In a certain administration, we could say it was preventative detention, and if the regime changes, then we say it's kidnapping," he said.
"I served with honor, my conscience is clear. I took responsibility," he added. "I consider myself a warrior, I consider myself an officer."
Subianto, who was once married to a daughter of Suharto, was dismissed from the armed forces after a military council found him guilty of exceeding orders by kidnapping dozens of activists, which he admitted to. Some of them remain missing.
He was also accused of plotting the riots and mass rapes of Chinese- Indonesian women during the riots, as well as involvement in human rights abuses in East Timor, which was occupied by Indonesia before its people overwhelmingly voted for independence in 1999.
Subianto, however, denied those accusations, which he said were politically motivated.
"In a power struggle succession, some parties or figures will turn out to be the winners and some parties will turn out to be the losers," Subianto said.
"I was 47 years old (at that time), I was a lieutenant general, I was the son-in-law of President Suharto. It's logical that people saw me as a strong contender for his successor," he added.
In politics, however, "there is no eternal enemy," he said, adding that many of the activists who accused him of abducting them are now members of his newly established Gerindra Party.
He claimed that he is also now a friend of East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, whom he fought against during the Indonesian occupation.
"We respect each other, because he was fighting for his boss and I was fighting for my boss," he said.
He said he is committed to defeating President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who will seek a second term in the July 8 election.
Under Yudhoyono's administration, he alleged, Indonesia faces a future of its population increasing faster than its food supply.
Yudhoyono, he said, has failed to eradicate poverty, saying that one of the basic keys to deal with poverty is by promoting agriculture.