Subject: IO: Jakarta warned on Timor trials


Jakarta warned on Timor trials (2/24/01)

JAKARTA (IO) — East Timorese leaders yesterday warned the Indonesian government that if it fails to soon put on trial those accused of committing human rights abuses in East Timor, an international war crimes tribunal will be unavoidable.

The government has said it plans to form ad hoc tribunals to try the cases and the move should be approved by parliament within a few weeks.

“If that takes place it will be a major step forward for Indonesia’s credibility,” said East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta after a meeting with Amien Rais, speaker of People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), in Jakarta yesterday.

“If Indonesia delivers justice it will be good for everyone. However, if it fails there is no way the [UN] Security Council itself can escape its responsibility to hold an international war crimes tribunal,” said Ramos- Horta, who was accompanied at the meeting by chief of the United Nations Transitional Administration (UNTAET) in East Timor, Sergio Viera de Mello. Both leaders also met with House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung and parliament’s committee on foreign affairs.

De Mello on Thursday said there had been no progress in pledges to try 22 people accused by Indonesian prosecutors of involvement in the violence surrounding the 1999 independence ballot in East Timor.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has warned that if Jakarta does not try the suspects, and justice is not seen to be done, an international tribunal could be convened.

The change of status of one of the most notorious suspects named by Indonesian prosecutors, militia leader Eurico Guterres, — from prison into house arrest — while still on trial in Jakarta on charges unrelated to the East Timor violence, boded poorly, Ramos-Horta said.

“It doesn’t help much in the credibility of the whole Indonesian legal system but the trial is continuing,” he said.

“Eurico Guterres is suspected of many more serious crimes,” he said, referring to the 1999 violence.

After yesterday’s meeting, Ramos-Horta said Rais “reiterated his preference for a domestic court to hold the trials”.

De Mello told Tandjung he hopes Indonesia will provide assistance to develop governance and infrastructure in East Timor.

He suggested that East Timorese now studying in Indonesia should return to East Timor for the sake of local development.

The UNTAET leader said his administration is continuing to set up political parties and transitional government posts in preparation for an election.

Tandjung said he hopes the problem concerning the East Timorese refugees could be resolved peacefully. He said those that return to East Timor should be given an opportunity to participate in the political arena.

Legislator Djoko Susilo meanwhile whether Fretilin figures should be in East Timor’s future government. He suggested that UNTAET should give government positions to neutral figures in order to curb any hatred of Indonesia.

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