Subject: Jakarta Must Hold Trials to Avoid International Tribunal: Ramos-Horta

Jakarta must hold trials to avoid international tribunal: Ramos-Horta

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 (AFP) - Indonesia should put on trial those responsible for militia atrocities in East Timor to avoid an international war crimes tribunal, visiting East Timorese independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta said.

"The Indonesian national investigation into human rights abuses in East Timor has produced what would amount to an indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity," he told a public meeting in the Malaysian capital.

Asked whether those charged in connection with violence that erupted after the territory's vote for independence should be brought before an international tribunal or an Indonesian court, Ramos-Horta said: "We await the next step by the attorney general. We are waiting confidently.

"If the Indonesian republic is strong enough to bring to trial those responsible, those identified in their own report, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and justice is served, then there is no need for an international tribunal.

"We want justice, we don't want revenge, we don't want embarrassment for Indonesia," he told the meeting which ended early Wednesday.

"So we hope the courage, the steps taken so far by President (Abdurrahman) Wahid and Indonesia as a country will continue. It will spare Indonesia further embarrassment."

Unlike in earlier stops on his Asian tour to seek aid for the territory, Ramos-Horta avoided mentioning former military chief General Wiranto by name.

Last week Ramos-Horta and fellow independence leader Xanana Gusmao said Wiranto was directly responsible for the destruction and violence in East Timor.

Wiranto, who has been implicated by two independent reports in human rights violations, has refused Wahid's repeated demands to resign from the cabinet.

Wahid has vowed to pardon the general if he is convicted of rights abuses.

Ramos-Horta said Wahid would be "received as a statesman and friend of East Timor" when he visited the territory this month to open Indonesia's first diplomatic mission.

At the meeting, held to launch a Malaysian-East Timor friendship society, he also praised Asian governments for persuading Indonesia to accept a United Nations force to halt the military-backed militia killings.

He said South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung had spoken to Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

They took a joint stand in advising Jakarta to accept a peace force and were supported by all Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries, Ramos-Horta said.

"If ASEAN had not joined forces with Korea, China and Japan and the US and Europe, those in Indonesia who did not want to accept the democratic decision of East Timor would have had their way.

"They would have said it is the West, it is the Europeans against us Asians."

Gusmao thanked Malaysians who supported the independence struggle.

"We know it's difficult to rebuild everything in East Timor, but with the same courage and injection of love and help from countries like Malaysia who believed that we will live again, we might achieve."

The pair are on the last day of a visit to Malaysia.

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