Subject: Lusa: Ramos Horta asks UN officers to colaborate with riot inquiry

Ramos Horta asks UN officers to colaborate with riot inquiry

Dili, Feb. 19 (Lusa) - Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta appealed Wednesday to the UN mission in East Timor to reverse its decision and allow 20 UN police officers to appear before an inquiry into riots last year that left three people dead.

In comments to Lusa in Dili, Ramos Horta recognized the "right to immunity" of UN personnel, but asked the UNMISET mission to show "understanding" and colaborate with the official inquiry.

"The Timorese government only wants to determine the truth of what happened", he said, referring to violent rioting and clashes with police in Baucau and Dili in November and December, respectively, in which three people were killed.

UN sources told Lusa that UNMISET chief Kamalesh Sharma had informed the government that it would not bow to a Feb. 6 request from Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro for 20 UN officers to make depositions in the inquiry.

The officials in question include the two top commanders of the UN police force, Peter Miller of Canada and Dennis McDermott of Australia, and Portuguese officers.

UNMISET's No. 2 official, Sukehiro Hasegawa of Japan, told Lusa the UN officers would not appear before the inquiry because of their immunity status, but that the UN mission was committed to helping determine "the truth of what happened".

Some UN officials criticized UNMISET's stance. Dili's "request was made in the context of an administrative and documental process, not a judicial inquiry", one official said, adding that UNMISET's refusal to cooperate could be interpreted as an attempt to "hide something".

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