Subject: AGE: Timor party calls for prosecutions

Timor party calls for prosecutions

Lindsay Murdoch

June 2, 2007

EAST Timor's ruling Fretilin party has declared its support for the prosecution of people responsible for atrocities committed in the country, making controversy over reluctance to put former Indonesian military officers on trial a key issue of parliamentary elections.

The party has also said that a joint Indonesian-East Timor commission should not lead to amnesties for those who committed serious crimes, contradicting comments by an Indonesian-appointed commission member.

In a surprise move, Fretilin has recruited Aniceto Guterres, East Timor's most respected human rights campaigner and member of the Commission of Truth and Friendship, to be one of its candidates at the election on June 30.

Mr Guterres said yesterday that East Timor's desire to have good relations with Indonesia "should not result in our nation doing things which result in justice not being pursued or the process of reconciliation between our nations neglected". He also said that amnesties "should not be a pre-condition for co-operating with investigations".

"Fretilin believes the search for justice should begin with thorough investigations into crimes, which lead to prosecutions, trials and sentencing," Mr Guterres said.

The comments will put pressure on former president Xanana Gusmao, who has formed his own party in a bid to oust Fretilin from power.

Mr Gusmao has argued against international calls to prosecute Indonesians responsible for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999, saying the country must have good relations with its giant neighbour.

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