Subject: AFP: JRH shrugs off UN CTF boycott threat

ETimor president shrugs off UN boycott threat

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AFP) - East Timor's president on Friday brushed off a UN threat to boycott a commission charged with examining violence surrounding East Timor's 1999 independence vote, an official said.

President Jose Ramos-Horta met with members of the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in his capacity as head of state en route to New York to attend next week's UN general assembly.

The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in July that the world body would boycott the commission, which was set up in 2005 and has heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, unless it rules out recommending amnesties for rights crimes.

Such a move would involve it changing its terms of reference to state that it has no authority to recommend amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights.

"(Ramos-Horta) expressed his appreciation to the commission for its work so far and said he will not change the terms of reference of the commission," Indonesian co-chairman of the commission, Benjamin Mangkudilaga, told AFP.

The president said the boycott statement was not an official UN stance.

Mangkudilaga also said he told Ramos-Horta the commission, which will convene in the East Timorese capital Dili next week to hear testimony there, had started drafting recommendations.

Ramos-Horta met with the commissioners on Friday as he will be away from East Timor next week, when the CTF's fifth round of hearings will be held.

The commissioner said more than a dozen people would testify, including Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and military commander Taur Matan Ruak.

The hearings have so far been held in Bali, where the CTF has its headquarters, or in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

The CTF has no prosecution powers and was set up along the lines of South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


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