Subject: Indonesia, UNTAET sign deal on peacekeeper murder probe

The Jakarta Post June 27, 2001

Indonesia, UNTAET sign deal on peacekeeper murder probe

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara (JP): Indonesia and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) signed an agreement on Tuesday on an investigation into the killing of a UN Peacekeeping Force member in East Timor last year.

In the agreement, both sides agreed to facilitate and expedite the investigation of the killing by questioning witnesses and suspects, as well as by gathering additional evidence from New Zealand, the country of origin of peacekeeper Leonard Maning, who is believed to have been shot dead in a skirmish with Indonesian militiamen in Suai, East Timor, on July 24, 2000.

The head of East Nusa Tenggara's Prosecutor's Office, Sudhono Iswahyudi, and provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Yakobus Jacki Uli represented Indonesia in signing the agreement. East Timor's Attorney General Muhammad Othman represented UNTAET.

Othman said the agreement would serve as a reference point for the inquiry, and would prove to the world that both UNTAET and Indonesia were serious about dealing with the case.

He added that his office was ready to present evidence, including an automatic weapon allegedly used by the main suspect in the killing, Yacobus Bere, and witnesses who claimed to have seen Yacobus at the time of the incident.

Yacobus surrendered to the provincial police on Jan. 15 this year after six months in hiding, and is currently being held at the Belu Police station.

Sudono said the Indonesian Criminal Code allowed his office to investigate an Indonesian citizen who committed a crime abroad.

In an unrelated development, Othman said the East Timor Attorney General's Office would question nine key witnesses in Indonesia, including several high-ranking Indonesian Military (TNI) officers, in connection with the killing of five Australian journalists on Oct. 16, 1976.

A number of TNI generals, including former information minister Lt. Gen. (ret) Yunus Yosfiah, are suspected of being directly involved in the killings in Balibo, Bobonaro regency, during an armed clash between the military and proindependence Fretilin rebels.

Othman, however, acknowledged that the investigation would be an uphill battle because according to international law a criminal case could not be prosecuted after 18 years. (30)

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