Subject: AFP: Gusmao wants Dutch journalist's murder trial held in East Timor

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse August 13, 2002

Gusmao wants Dutch journalist's murder trial held in East Timor

DILI, East Timor,

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao said Tuesday any trial for the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes should be held in his country.

"I would like the legal process to be held in East Timor so that East Timorese perpetrators could see for themselves that justice does exist," Gusmao said, referring to the possible role of East Timorese members of the Indonesian army in Thoenes' death.

Gusmao was speaking to reporters after talks with Peter Thoenes, the brother of Financial Times correspondent Sander who was killed in the Becora area of Dili on September 21, 1999.

Thoenes, Gusmao said, should stand as "an example for East Timorese press so that his bravery could be imitated by East Timorese journalists."

Dutch Ambassador Baron Schelter van Heemstra, who accompanied the elder Thoenes, said his government would seek justice, "no matter how long it takes."

Dutch police Superintendent Gerrit Thiry last month presented Indonesian investigators with a videotape that appears to support witness statements implicating Indonesian soldiers in Thoenes' murder.

"There is more than enough (evidence) to arrest at least several TNI (Indonesian armed forces) members as suspects in the hope that they will be questioned as suspects, not just as witnesses," Thiry said in July.

The spokesman for the Indonesian attorney general's office, Barman Zahir, confirmed Tuesday that the case remained open.

He said prosecutors were still gathering witnesses but they must first ask permission from Jakarta's ad hoc human rights court to officially continue with the probe.

Zahir said the Indonesian investigators remained uncertain about who shot Thoenes, and they were "very hesitant" with a key witness of Thiry's.

Thoenes was riding pillion on a motorcycle at the time of his death.

Thiry said the motorcycle driver has told investigators that shots were fired after he and Thoenes saw approaching troops from Indonesian Battalion 745. The rear tire of the bike went flat and Thoenes fell.

Other witnesses say soldiers were standing over Thoenes' body as a shot was heard and the motorcycle lying on the road was loaded onto an Indonesian army truck, Thiry said.

On the videotape, Thiry said, a black motorcycle was seen being unloaded from a truck at a Dili military base in the presence of soldiers and police wearing bandanas.

Thiry said the tape showed the rear tyre of the motorcycle was flat.

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