Subject: LUSA: FM 'saddened' by Jakarta's upholding of jail term on militia boss

East Timor: FM 'saddened' by Jakarta's upholding of jail term on militia boss

Coimbra, Portugal, March 15 (Lusa) - East Timor's foreign minister says that he is "very saddened" at the decision by Indonesia's top court this week to reinstate a 10-year jail term on former pro-Jakarta militia chief Eurico Guterres.

"I am very sad because again it is a Timorese who is paying for all the others", José Ramos Horta told an audience of students and teachers at Portugal's prestigious Coimbra University on Tuesday.

Guterres, ethnically East Timorese and ex-leader of the notorious Aitarak militia, was given a 10-year prison term by an ad hoc Jakarta court for war crimes committed in Timor around the time of Dili`s 1999 independence vote.

His jail term was halved on appeal in 2003, but reinstated Monday by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

He has remained at liberty in West Timor since his original sentencing and is reported as having being elected as a regional leader of one of Indonesia's main political forces.

The ex-Aitarak boss is one of only two among 18 people, both East Timorese, indicted by the Jakarta ad hoc court to have had their convictions upheld.

"I run the risk of being criticized in Timor by NGOs and by Amnesty International, but this is my sincere and genuine opinion", said Ramos Horta on his unease at the prison term handed down to Guterres.

Ramos Horta, who observers say could either enter the race to become the UN's new secretary general or stand for election as his country's president next year, also called for the Dili Parliament to consider an amnesty for convicted and imprisoned Timorese militiamen.

"If it is not possible to punish the true culprits - the Indonesian military - why should Timorese militiamen be tried and sentenced?" asked Ramos Horta.



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