Subject: AFP: UN Timor tribunal 'possible'

Also: UN press briefing

UN: Timor tribunal 'possible'

From correspondents in the United Nations

August 8, 2003

A UN official said today that an international tribunal to try Indonesian soldiers accused of massacring East Timor civilians is a possibility, given the light sentences meted out so far.

"The UN has been closely monitoring the conduct of the trials that had taken place in Indonesia and the secretary general is considering its options," a UN official said.

On Tuesday, the Indonesian justice system sentenced the former general in charge of security in East Timor during the massacres to three years in prison.

General Adam Damiri was the last of 18 officers tried for their part in the massacres of East Timor independence activists.

Eleven members of Indonesia's security forces and one civilian have been acquitted. Five others, two of them army officers, Dili's former police chief, the former civilian governor of the territory and a former militia leader, have been sentenced to prison terms but were freed on appeal.

The United Nations has begun to explore the establishment of an international tribunal. The talks, according to the source on condition of anonymity, include the bureaus of legal affairs, political affairs and the high commissioner of human rights.

The Indonesian government decided in 2000 to try officers formally charged in the massacres by a UN commission in order to avoid the establishment of an international tribunal.

Jakarta's decision was accepted, but the United Nations then said that seating an international tribunal would be reexamined after the outcome of the Indonesian justice system trials.

The European Union said on Tuesday it was disappointed by the sentence given Damiri.

Pro-Indonesian militias, set up by the Indonesian army, killed between 600 and 2,000 civilians in 1999 after a large majority voted for independence from Indonesia.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, after it had been abandoned by its colonial power, Portugal.

East Timor declared its independence in May 2002.

Agence France-Presse


07/08/2003 Press Briefing


Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

Question: Indonesian General Adam Damiri had been condemned to three years in prison early this week. After this last judgment, the UN was supposed to start thinking if they were going to ask to put together an international tribunal to judge the crimes that were committed in East Timor. Could you tell us if such a move has started?

Spokesman: I don't have guidance on that point. I'd say that in this house there was relief that the judgment against the General came through. How that judgement might have affected the UN's thinking regarding a separate tribunal, though, I'd have to ask and get back to you on.

[He later said that the United Nations has been following the conduct of the trials very closely and the Secretary-General is considering his options.]

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