Subject: KY: Militia leader makes secret one-day visit to E Timor

Militia leader makes secret one-day visit to E. Timor

DILI, East Timor, March 10 Kyodo

A leader of one of the pro-Jakarta militias that went on violent rampages in East Timor last September made a secret one-day visit to the territory Thursday, the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said Friday.

'Yesterday (Thursday), for a one-day visit, Joanico Belo was in Dili,' UNTAET spokesman Manoel de Almeida told reporters.

'He left this morning after a number of meetings with UNTAET and East Timor leadership,' he added.

Belo is the leader of the Saka militia group of the Baucau District in the eastern part of the territory. But de Almeida said Belo visited as an individual, not as a representative of any pro-Indonesia group.

The visit was kept secret from media for security reasons as Belo could be a target for reprisals by East Timorese, de Almeida said.

The trip was a part of a 'come-and-see' visiting program arranged by UNTAET that aims to increase the number of refugees returning to East Timor from West Timor so 'they could see for themselves what the situation is like here.'

'This is the first come-and-see visit which is a part of the program organized by UNTAET,' de Almeida said. '(Belo) is returning and he has to report back to the people in West Timor of what he saw here.'

De Almeida said convincing East Timorese refugees in West Timor to return was a priority for UNTAET.

'One of those (ways) to deal with that is to have their leaders visiting here, meeting with people and going back and telling people of what they have seen,' he added.

During the visit, Belo met East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao, Aniseto Guterres of the human rights organization Hak Foundation and various UNTAET officials.

De Almeida said Belo was expected to give a truthful account of the visit to people in West Timor. Misinformation campaigns in West Timor, alleging the situation in East Timor is getting worse, have caused many refugees to refrain from returning.

U.N. officials in the territory are planning to organize reunions of families now scattered throughout East and West Timor due to last year's violence.

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