Subject: AP: UN probe into East Timor violence rejected

UN probe into East Timor violence rejected

Melbourne Age, December 25, 2004

AP -- Indonesia has rejected UN plans for a commission that would study Jakarta's resolve to punish those responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.

The United Nations has yet to formally announce the commission.

But a joint statement from the governments of Indonesia and East Timor said "it has been learned that the UN Secretary-General will announce in due course the establishment of a UN Commission of Experts."

The body would have the power to recommend that an international tribunal be formed to try Indonesian military officers accused in the violence.

Human rights groups have said Jakarta's efforts so far to prosecute those responsible have been a sham.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa declined to say yesterday whether Jakarta planned to cooperate with the commission.

Without access to judges and court documents in Jakarta, the body would unlikely be able to produce a meaningful report.

East Timor voted for independence from 24 years of Indonesian rule in a UN-sponsored ballot in 1999.

After the results were announced, the Indonesian military and its proxy militias unleashed a wave of violence that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 300,000 others.

Jakarta promised to punish those responsible. Courts in Jakarta charged 18 people - most from its police and military - with human rights crimes, but 12 were acquitted and four had their sentences overturned on appeal. Two other appeals are pending.

Earlier this week, East Timor and Indonesia's foreign ministers announced the formation of their own joint Commission on Truth and Friendship to investigate the 1999 violence.

Both governments have said that body should be regarded as an "alternative" to the planned UN Commission of Experts.

Natalegawa said with there was no need for more than one more mechanism to deal with the violence, and that the COE was "redundant."

"It has long been our position to reject the COE and any requirements that might arise from it," he said. "There is no need for a parallel body to the truth and friendship commission."

East Timor has not backed calls by rights groups to establish an international tribunal. It has said that maintaining good tie with its giant neighbour and former occupying power is more important than pushing for justice.

- AP

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