Subject: UN peacekeepers in Timor face possible sex charges

UN peacekeepers in Timor face possible sex charges

DILI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Several Jordanian soldiers attached to the U.N. peacekeeping force in East Timor might face charges over alleged sexual misconduct, a spokesman said on Friday.

Spokesman Peter Biro declined to give details of the allegations but said an investigation had been conducted following an order from the chief of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), Sergio Vieira de Mello.

"The UNTAET investigation...has found strong grounds that an alleged act of sexual misconduct by U.N. soldiers occurred in Oecussi on the night of the 27th and 28th of May," Biro said, referring to a small coastal enclave that is part of Indonesian West Timor.

Biro said the U.N. inquiry would be followed by a separate investigation by East Timor's Prosecutor-General's office -- action that could lead to formal charges against the Jordanians.

East Timor is under U.N. administration after voting to break from Indonesian rule in 1999, a move that triggered a savage response from pro-Jakarta militias. It will hold parliamentary elections this month ahead of full independence early in 2002.

The Jordanian peacekeeping contingent was deployed to Oecussi early last year, an enclave that was part of East Timor during Jakarta's often harsh 23-year rule.

Other U.N. contingents have also been embroiled in controversy.

Earlier this year, two members of the Pakistan army engineer battalion based in southwest Suai were sent home in disgrace after being found guilty of "inappropriate behaviour" involving East Timorese women.


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