Subject: Militia chiefs plan reconnaisance trip to home towns in E.Timor

Militia chiefs plan reconnaisance trip to home towns

JAKARTA, Nov 22 (AFP) - The leaders of two of the pro-Indonesia militia gangs that went on a rampage of killing, rape and destruction across East Timor last year are planning to revisit their home towns next week, one of the leaders said Wednesday.

Leaders of the hardline Mahidi militia were ready to make a reconnaisance visit to the southern district Ainaro, which was razed by their men after the territory voted for independence -- while heads of the more moderate Sakasera militia would visit Baucau, Sakasera leader Joanico Cesario told AFP.

The aim of the visit is to see if it would be safe for almost 20,000 of their followers to return home after 14 months in the squalid camps on the Indonesian side of the border, he said.

"We are just waiting for UNTAET (the UN administration in East Timor) to give us the go-ahead," Cesario said by phone from the West Timorese capital of Kupang.

"The visit will hopefully take place sometime next week, maybe Wednesday or Thursday."

Cesario and Mahidi leaders, Cancio Lopes de Carvalho and his brother Nemecio, are three of the four militia leaders who have broken ranks with the mainstream pro-integration leadership and offered to reveal who directed last year's terror, in exchange for security guarantees.

A letter they wrote to the UN Security Council last month resulted in a meeting at the border between East and West Timor on November 14 with UNTAET officials and representatives of the pro-independence CNRT and its armed wing, the Falintil.

The CNRT is the National Council for East Timorese Resistance headed by independence leader Xanana Gusmao.

Cesario said both sides had agreed to arrange visits by West Timor-based pro-integration leaders to East Timor, and also by independence leaders to camps housing East Timorese refugees in West Timor.

"I have 12 people ready to visit Baucau with me, and Cancio and Nemecio are ready to go to Ainaro," Cesario said.

"We will assess the situation there and see how safe it is for our people to return. We'll see how we are treated when we are there."

The visitors would talk to church and community leaders in their home towns so they could "see the situation for themselves and begin moves to create reconcilation," Cesario said.

He said the teams would then return to West Timor and give their respective refugee followers an idea of conditions in their now UN-administered homeland.

Cesario said he had 6,872 followers in a camp near the West Timor capital of Kupang waiting to go home, and that the Lopes de Carvalho brothers had 13,000 people waiting for their orders.

The breakaway milita leaders had held follow-up talks with UNTAET chief of Staff N. Parameswaran and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) East Timor chief Bernard Kerblatt on Monday and Tuesday in Kupang, he said.

Kerblatt and Parameswaran were in Kupang to oversee the repatriation of some 400 refugees, mostly the families of some 60 demobilised soldiers recruited in East Timor by the Indonesian military.

They were expected to return to Kupang to finalise the militia leaders' visits in the coming week.

Cesario repeated his declaration that the militia leaders were ready to face a court for their actions last year, and to be jailed "if we're found guilty."

However he said that independence fighters should also be tried.

"What if Falantil are found guilty of crimes? They'll have to go to jail too?

"Both sides must be punished, otherwise there is no justice."

Refugee leaders visited by a UN Security Council delegation at a camp near the border town of Atambua last week maintained their rejection of last year's independence referendum, claiming the ballot was rigged.

Jakarta-backed anti-independence militias razed the one-time Indonesian province to the ground when 78.5 percent of voters chose to reject further Indonesian rule, in a UN-supervised ballot on August 30 last year.

The militias pushed around 250,000 East Timorese over the border into the Indonesian half of Timor island, where between 60,000 and 120,000 remain.

Asked if he accepted the results, Cesario said he and his followers did not think about the ballot any more.

"Our struggle now is against violence. Our only thoughts now are about how to re-build East Timor."

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