Subject: Indon probe team to visit East & West Timor: de Mello

Indonesian probe team to visit East Timor: de Mello

JAKARTA, March 30 (AFP) - An Indonesian team investigating violence in East Timor last year will visit the ravaged territory to get more information and question witnesses, a UN official said here.

"The attorney general informed us that it (the team) is being constituted, that it is being established and he told us that it would soon be visiting East and West Timor," Sergio Vieira de Mello, who heads the UN transitional administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said.

De Mello, who spoke to journalists after meeting with Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, did not give the time frame for the team's visit.

"So it is urgent that we agree on the modalities of cooperation, accces to information, access to witnessses," he added.

De Mello said a memorandum of understanding was currently being discussed with the attorney general's office to facilitate the team's work.

"We have right now spent some time discussing the question of MOU and we have agreed that these talks will continue at the technical level early next week."

"There's urgency in concluding this memorandum of understanding and one of the purposes is to facilitate the work of the investigative team," he said.

Asked how much information UNTAET could provide the investigative team, De Mello said: "I don't think we can be specific on that."

"Of course in these particular issues they must tell us what they need and we will respond and we will do the same. As a matter of fact we have already done that in one particular intance, submitting the qestion to which we need answers."

Indonesia's national human rights commission has named former army chief General Wiranto and 32 other soldiers and officials as suspected of involvement or responsibility over the violence before and after East Timor's August 30 vote for independence.

The report was submitted to the attorney general's office for an official investigation.

Wiranto, currently under temporary suspension from his cabinet post by President Abdurrahman Wahid pending further investigation, has denied any wrongdoing.

Asked if he thought the trials of the suspects in the violence should all take place in Indonesia, de Mello said some may need to be tried in East Timor.

"That's why we're establishing the new judiciary in East Timor and it will be up to our judges to decide whether they wish to investigate one or the other case," he said.

He said the construction of the judicial system in East Timor "is going relaltively well" although it was confronted with a shortage of judges.

"You know that we have identified 54 lawyers, most of them trained in Indonesian universities. I appointed 12 of them in January as judges and prosecutors and will be appointng 12 more next week," he said.

"You can imagine 12 judges and prosecutor cannot deal with a hundred of cases which already exist and many more that are likely to exist in the future."

He said some of the lawyers would be assigned to the court in Bacau and the others would remain in the capital Dili.

"We have promulgated a regulation on the structure of a new judicial system and of a court system in East Timor, which you may know has specific articles on serious crimes and provide for the establishment of the special court to deal with serious crimes."

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