Subject: LUSA: Nation could become gangster 'playground', says ex-Jakarta leader

27-06-2003 14:11:00. Notícia nº SIR-5178467 Temas: new destaque3

East Timor: Nation could become gangster 'playground', says ex-Jakarta leader

Lisbon, June 27 (Lusa) - A former Indonesian president has said he fears that East Timor could become a haven for organized crime, with mafia groups and triads operating freely in the new Asian nation.

Abdurrahman Wahid, Jakarta`s first freely elected president, is currently on a visit to Portugal and the influential Muslim cleric told Lusa Thursday: "I am worried about Timor`s future...and whether it will be capable of reaching higher living standards as quickly as possible".

If speedy economic and social development does not occur in Timor, the country could become a "playground" for criminal organizations, Wahid said.

The former Indonesian leader, who took office in October 1999 and controversially removed armed forces chief Gen. Wiranto from government due to alleged war crimes committed by the senior commander, said he continued to have faith in Dili's leaders.

Wahid also commented on the Indonesia`s attempts to prosecute those responsible for the deadly wave of violence that swept over Timor in 1999 at the time of the territory's independence vote, saying the Jakarta ad hoc court set up to deal with human rights abuses by Indonesian security officials had failed to bring justice.

"The court is known to be corrupt and has no rigor or influence. Everything can be bought and while things are like this it will not be possible to achieve justice for Timor", said Wahid.

The ex-president, who leads Nahdlatul Ulama, the world`s biggest Muslim organization with 40 million members, also expressed his backing for Timor`s membership of the ASEAN bloc of southeast Asian nations.

PGF/CJB -Lusa-

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