Subject: DPA: UN paves way for east timor militia tribunal

U.N. paves way for east timor militia tribunal


Dili, East Timor (dpa) - Trials of Jakarta-backed militiamen implicated in last year's post-ballot violence in East Timor moved a step closer on Wednesday with the approval of legislation allowing the establishment of a war crimes-style tribunal, a senior U.N. official said.

Hans Joerg-Strohmeyer, the outgoing deputy head of judicial affairs of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said experts on international criminal law were expected to arrive in East Timor within a few months and indictments would be handed down soon after.

The experts will sit alongside East Timorese judges to hear cases of serious crime involving murder and multiple murder that occurred last September.

``The regulations are necessary to establish a more effective prosecution and trial for more serious criminal offences - crimes against humanity and the violence last year,'' he told reporters in Dili.

More than 100 people are currently being held in U.N. jails in East Timor , about half of whom are implicated in serious crimes arising from last year's bloody violence.

Human rights officials say as many as 1,500 people, mostly independence supporters, could have died when loyalist militias went on an unchecked rampage of murder, looting and arson.

Strohmeyer denied the East Timor trials were competing against criminal proceedings in Jakarta against senior Indonesian military and police officials linked to the violence.

He said there was no evidence that the Indonesian government was not serious about ensuring impartial and independent justice, but if legal proceedings turned into ``mock trials'' then East Timor reserved the right to hold its own tribunals. An international war crimes tribunal on East Timor would require the approval of the U.N. Security Council, Strohmeyer said.

Meanwhile, three U.N. officials and an East Timorese legal expert left Dili on Wednesday for talks in Jakarta with counterparts from the Indonesian attorney-general's office to organise the arrival in East Timor within two weeks of a legal team seeking evidence about last year's bloodshed.

In Dili, forensic experts have finalised an examination of 66 sets of human remains recovered from mass grave sites in East Timor 's Oecussi enclave. The victims were nearly all men and they appeared to have been executed by shotgun and blows from a machete, UNTAET spokeswoman, Barbara Reis said.

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