Subject: UN-Led Team Digs Up Remains Of 32 People In East Timor

Associated Press February 4, 2000

UN-Led Team Digs Up Remains Of 32 People In East Timor

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--A U.N.-led team of forensic investigators has dug up the remains of 32 people, including one with gunshot wounds, from a mass grave in East Timor, U.N. officials said Friday.

The mass grave is located in a 400-meter area in the village of Passabe in the isolated East Timorese enclave of Oecussi.

Forensic experts say the bodies already exhumed suffered several injuries, including skull fractures most likely from machetes wielded with tremendous force.

The investigators excavated one body on Friday with gunshot wounds to its skull, an apparent execution, the team's pathologist said, according to U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard.

East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia triggered a wave of violence and destruction by pro-Indonesian militia gangs. U.N. and Indonesian human rights commissions say the violence was organized and commanded by the Indonesian military.

The investigators say that on the evening of Sept. 9, militia members captured 70 men from two East Timorese villages and marched them into West Timor, Eckhard said.

They then tied up the villagers in pairs, marched them back into East Timor and hacked the men with machetes, killing many of them. Militia members brought local villagers to bury the bodies the next morning, he said.

The United Nations believes those responsible are still in West Timor, which is part of Indonesia and off-limits to investigators.

The investigators at the site in Passabe have uncovered 26 bodies and the remains of six others in five days of exhumations.

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