Subject: DPA: East Timor truth & friends panel to summon UN official to testify

Asia-Pacific News

East Timor truth panel to summon UN official to testify

Apr 17, 2007, 6:19 GMT

Jakarta - A special commission set up to investigate the Indonesian military's rampage in East Timor in 1999 is scheduled to summon the former chief of the UN body overseeing the territory to appear at public hearings next month, local media reports said Tuesday.

'We will invite the former chief of the UN Administration Mission in East Timor [UNAMET], Ian Martin, to appear before the commission's panel at another public hearing, scheduled to be convened on May 2-5 in Jakarta,' said the commission's co-chairman, Benyamin Mangkudilaga.

'We hope he [Martin] will come to appear in front of the commission's panel,' Koran Tempo newspaper quoted Mangkudilaga as saying.

In addition, the former chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, retired general Wiranto, and Dili's former military chief, Major-General Nur Muis, would be invited to testify to the commission, he said.

East Timor's current military commander, Taur Matanruak, would also be invited, although Mangkudilaga was not sure whether Matanruak would come because East Timor is preparing for a second-round of presidential elections.

The upcoming public hearings will be the third by the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship [CTF]. The commission held its second public hearing in Jakarta last month after the first session was held in Bali last February.

Speaking at the second public hearing in Jakarta last month, retired major-general Adam Damiri, the military commander of a Bali-based regional garrison, which included East Timor, at the time of the violence, said UNAMET was party responsible for the mayhem.

Damiri claimed that the violence surrounding East Timor's vote for independence was due to the 'incredible disappointment' with the result by pro-Indonesia supporters because of 'widespread cheating' from UNAMET.

The UN estimates more than 1,000 people were killed in the carnage, which began just after voters in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-run referendum on August 30, 1999.

Damiri claimed the Indonesian military did not arm pro-Jakarta militia groups that went on a rampage in East Timor nearly eight years ago. He also dismissed the estimated death toll as 'nonsense,' claiming that 'not more than 100 people were killed.'

Human rights groups criticized the commission as toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.

The commission was set up by Indonesia and East Timor to establish the truth behind the violence before and after the historic 1999 poll, in order to aid reconciliation between the two nations.

Several senior Indonesian army and police generals have been acquitted of any involvement in the violence in trials in Indonesia, and the Jakarta government refused to hand over any suspects to a UN-run tribunal in East Timor.

East Timor became an independent nation in 2002 after being administered by the UN for more than two years.

Former Dili bishop and Noble Peace Prize winner Carlos Ximenes Belo told the commission's second round of hearings that Indonesian military forces and their militia proxies carried out massacres against Catholic Church personnel and civilians before and after the vote.

Indonesia occupied East Timor for 24 years, and as many as 200,000 civilians died during that period. Jakarta denies committing any atrocities during the occupation and has claimed the violence in 1999 was not organized by its armed forces.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


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