Subject: Indonesia to Bar Entry of UN Experts Investigating Timor Crimes [3 updates] 

The Associated Press April 10, 2005

Indonesia to Deny Entry for U.N. Experts

By CHRIS BRUMMITT The Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia will deny entry visas for a U.N. legal team investigating why Jakarta failed to punish military officers for the violence that accompanied East Timor's 1999 independence vote, a government spokesman said Monday.

Marty Natelegawa said East Timor and Indonesia have formed their own commission to investigate the violence and promote reconciliation, and denied that refusing entry to the three legal experts would anger the United Nations.

"Indonesia is a respected member of the United Nations," he said.

Vengeful Indonesian forces and their militia proxies killed nearly 2,000 people in the aftermath off a U.N.-organized plebiscite in 1999 that ended Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor. About half of East Timor's 700,000 people were forced to flee their homes during the bloodshed, which only ended with the arrival of peacekeeping troops.

In response to international pressure, Indonesian courts charged 18 people, most of them police and military officers. Seventeen were either acquitted or had their sentences overturned. An appeal in the final case is pending.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed a commission of experts to review Jakarta's prosecutions and explain why a 1999 Security Council resolution to try those responsible for the bloodshed failed.

Indonesia and East Timor's Commission of Truth and Friendship was inaugurated last month. The body consists of lawyers and human rights figures from both nations. It will issue a report describing the cause of the bloodshed, but will not recommend legal action against those responsible.

Human rights groups want the United Nations to oversee an international tribunal for East Timor like those in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. They say the joint East Timor and Indonesia commission is an attempt to absolve Indonesia's generals of responsibility for crimes in East Timor.

East Timor, however, says it is no longer interested in pursuing war crimes cases, saying it is more interested in improving ties with its giant neighbor.


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