Subject: East Timor Minister Urges Megawati To Honor Independence

Associated Press February 13, 2001

E Timor Minister Urges Indonesia To Honor Independence

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta Tuesday called on Indonesia's Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri to honor her country's commitment to an independent East Timor.

Speaking to journalists in East Timor's capital Dili, the Nobel peace laureate said he was confident that whoever led Indonesia would recognize the reality of his country's break from its former occupier.

"I believe the policy will prevail (of recognizing) the irreversible process of East Timorese independence," he said.

In the past two weeks, Indonesian President Wahid has been under increasing pressure to resign or be impeached over his involvement in political and financial scandals.

Ramos-Horta's remarks reflect the concern felt by many East Timorese leaders over a possible change of leadership in Jakarta.

East Timor's political elite doesn't share the same warm relationship with Indonesia's nationalist vice president as they do with Wahid, who has been openly supportive of their independence.

In the past, Megawati has expressed her regret that East Timor broke away from Indonesia. Her political party has connections with East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres, whose paramilitaries fought to keep the province united with Indonesia.

Ramos-Horta praised the efforts of Wahid's attorney general, Marzuki Darusman, to bring to trial those responsible for the violence. He said that as long as Indonesia was seen to be moving forward with those cases, he would be satisfied.

However, he said there was still room for an international war crimes tribunal, such as those set up for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, if the Indonesian process stalled.

"The alternative of a war crimes tribunal is there, if for some tragic reason Indonesia fails to deliver justice," Ramos-Horta said.

Meanwhile in Jakarta, news reports said Indonesia would refuse to extradite a former government minister over the murder of five Australian-based journalists in East Timor more than 25 years ago.

The U.N. administration in the territory is considering issuing arrest warrants for Yunus Yofiah and two other people over the killings, which occurred during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

"Even if Yunus Yosfiah is proven guilty, we will not hand him over for trial abroad," foreign minister Alwi Shihab was quoted as saying.

At the time of the slayings, Yosfiah was an Indonesian army captain commanding an elite unit called Team Susi. He has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing of the newsmen.

At the time the Indonesian government in Jakarta claimed the journalists - two Britons, two Australians, and a New Zealander - were caught in a firefight between the invaders and East Timorese troops. But witnesses testified that they were gunned down after surrendering.

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