Subject: East Timor Suspects Fail To Show For UN Team Questioning

Associated Press December 7, 2000

East Timor Suspects Fail To Show For UN Team Questioning

JAKARTA (AP)--Five senior Indonesian police officers - the first of 22 suspects due to be investigated by a U.N. team - failed to show up Thursday for questioning over their role in last year's destruction of East Timor.

"They have not arrived," said Chuck Suryosumpeno, a spokesman for the Indonesia's Attorney General's Office. "We will wait and see tomorrow."

The team had planned to question the five officers in East Timor over the violence that erupted in the territory after its people voted for freedom in a U.N.-sponsored independence referendum in August 1999.

Suryosumpeno said Indonesian authorities were assisting in a U.N. inquiry into the bloodshed in East Timor. The attorney general's office didn't have the power to force the men to turn up, he added.

The 22 men have also been named as suspects in a separate Indonesian probe into the violence.

Oyvind Olsen, the head of the U.N. team, said investigators had discovered 66 corpses in two mass graves in East Timor. The trials of 150 suspects involved in last year's bloodshed are expected to begin next year, he added.

"This is a very difficult investigation and we need to clarify things from these witnesses," Olsen said.

He said the team planned to stay in Jakarta until it had questioned the men.

"We have no time limits," said Olsen. "But we have worked very hard and we want the investigation finished as soon as possible."

A cooperation agreement signed between Indonesian officials and their U.N. counterparts in East Timor last July gives them the power to ask each other to extradite suspects in criminal cases.

Hundreds of people were killed and much of the territory was left in ruins after the referendum.

The government in Jakarta has rejected the setting up of a war crimes tribunal along the lines of those for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia. It has insisted that its own court system is capable of bringing those responsible to trial.

The 22 suspects are accused of taking part in the massacres in April, 1999, of independence supporters in Liquica and of refugees sheltering at the Dili home of prominent independence leader Manuel Carrascalao.

The group also is allegedly implicated in a bloody attack on the home of East Timor's Nobel Peace laureate Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, killings in the border town of Suai, and the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes.

Human rights groups have long blamed the Indonesian military for inciting the violence.

An earlier Indonesian government-sponsored human rights commission accused 33 military officers of "crimes against humanity."

A separate U.N. panel concluded that the terror campaign "would not have been possible without the active involvement of the Indonesian army, and the knowledge and approval of the top military command."

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