Subject: UN Security Council Backs Indon Prosecution For Timor Violence

Associated Press February 23, 2000

UN Council Backs Indonesia Prosecution For Timor Violence

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--The Security Council has thrown its support behind Indonesian prosecution of those responsible for the violence in East Timor last year, making no recommendation for an international tribunal in a document released Wednesday.

U.N. human rights experts had recommended last month that the council establish an international rights tribunal to try leading members of Indonesia's military and police who were behind the wave of terror that swept through East Timor after its Aug. 30 vote for independence.

But in a letter reacting to the recommendations, the Security Council said instead that it welcomed the commitment of the Indonesian government "to bring those responsible to justice through Indonesia's national judicial system."

The council urged Indonesia to create a transparent, legal process that conforms with international standards and said swift and effective action by the government would help mend relations with East Timor.

The council did, however, suggest the U.N. might have some role to play, although it didn't elaborate.

The U.N. has been running East Timor since shortly after its people voted overwhelmingly to separate from Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it a year later.

On Wednesday, U.N. peacekeepers officially took over from an Australian-led intervention force that moved in after the Aug. 30 vote rein in pro-Indonesian militias who went on a rampage to protest the vote results.

The violence destroyed most of the territory, left at least 300 people dead and forced tens of thousands of people to flee to neighboring West Timor.

Indonesia has said it should be allowed to prosecute those responsible for the violence, and an Indonesian human rights commission has implicated top Indonesian military and police members by name.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has supported Indonesia's right to mount a trial.

But touring the devastation in East Timor for the first time last week, Annan warned that an international tribunal could be set up if Indonesia fails to carry out a credible judicial process.

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