Subject: AFP: Annan urges Indon to press ahead with Timor rights trial

Agence France-Presse May 18, 2002

Annan urges Jakarta to press ahead with Timor rights trial

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called on Indonesia to pursue the trials of officers accused of gross human rights abuses in East Timor effectively and credibly.

"I think Indonesia should press ahead with the trial of the accused in an effective and credible manner and we're prepared to work with them," Annan told a press conference after meeting Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

"We have also discussed to what extent we can cooperate together to ensure that justice is done," Annan said during a stop in Jakarta on his way to East Timor's independence celebrations Sunday.

Jakarta has set up a human rights court to try 18 people accused of involvement in the violence that swept East Timor when it voted in 1999 to separate from Indonesia.

But human rights groups have slammed the court procedures as ineffective.

Five middle-ranking officers, a police general and a former East Timor governor are currently on trial under the ad hoc human rights court.

Annan, who last visited Indonesia in 2000, has in the past said the UN Security Council might decide to sanction its own inquiry into East Timor's rights abuses if the Indonesian response is unsatisfactory.

Annan said he and Wirayuda did not discuss a possible international tribunal.

"I discussed what assistance we could bring and we intend to follow up this discussion in concrete and practical terms," the UN chief said.

Wirayuda on Friday said Annan, in a meeting with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, had discussed possible UN technical assistance to help train judges and prosecutors to "strengthen" the human rights court.

The foreign minister also said the UN planned to send observers to monitor the trials.

Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, consented to a UN-organised ballot in August 1999 in which almost 80 percent of East Timorese voted for independence.

The vote sparked an orgy of violence and destruction by pro-Jakarta militias and some elements of the Indonesian army. The UN took over government of the territory in October 1999.

On Sunday evening Annan will hand over the UN's authority to East Timor's parliament speaker and lower the world body's flag after its unique 32-month exercise in nation-building.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement Friday, said there was "widespread scepticism that trials underway in Jakarta before the Indonesian ad hoc tribunals will bring accountability".

The New York-based group called on the UN and donor governments to increase pressure on Indonesia either to effectively prosecute all those responsible, "or turn them over to bodies that will, beginning with those already indicted in Dili".

Jakarta is refusing to extradite suspects to face trial at a special court in the East Timorese capital.


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