Subject: LUSA: Investigations Completed into 33 'Serious Crimes' Cases

10 Jan 02 12:29 East Timor: Investigations Completed into 33 'Serious Crimes' Cases

The Serious Crimes Unit of East Timor´s attorney general´s office has completed investigations into 33 cases of crimes committed in 1999, the year of the territory´s independence plebiscite, including 11 cases involving crimes against humanity, such as mass murders and forced deportations.

The cases, according to figures released in Dili Thursday, involve 83 suspects, 21 of whom have already been tried.

In a related development, Siri Frigaard, of Norway, arrived in Dili Wednesday to assume the post of deputy attorney general at the Serious Crimes Unit.

Frigaard´s arrival coincides with increased attention in Dili to the return home of former anti-independence militiamen who took refuge in Indonesian West Timor after rampages in 1999.

A UN administration official told Lusa Thursday that Mahidi militia chief Cancio Lopes de Carvalho, whose return to East Timor was first set for last Tuesday, had postponed his return for a third time.

Lopes de Carvalho, the official said, had justified the new delay with the "disinterest" of other refugees in accompanying him and the reportedly difficult living conditions in his home area of Ainaro, south of Dili.

In comments to Lusa, Dili´s Catholic bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, reacted cautiously to news of the militia chief´s postponed return.

"It is impossible to think of reconciliation without justice"; Belo said, adding that he opposed plans to give Lopes de Carvalho a VIP welcome.

Judicial sources have told Lusa witnesses have linked Lopes de Carvalho, personally, and his Mahidi paramilitaries to human rights crimes in Ainrio and other areas.

The former pro-Indonesia militia boss has said he was ready to stand trial and confident he would be acquitted if brought before a Dili court.

SAS -Lusa-

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