Subject: AFP: E Timor commander testifies before commission

ETimor forces commander appears before truth commission

1 hour ago

DILI (AFP) ­ East Timor's armed forces commander appeared Friday before a commission investigating an outbreak of deadly violence during the nation's 1999 independence vote.

Taur Matan Ruak gave his testimony in a closed-door session a day after the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) wrapped up its fifth and final round of public hearings here.

East Timor's CTF co-chairman Dionisio Babo told AFP the commander spoke to panel members for more than an hour.

"The hearing has gone well. We called him here as a former commandant of Falintil (the armed guerrilla group that fought Indonesia's occupation) to hear his testimony on what happened in 1999," he said.

An estimated 1,400 people were killed when militias backed by the Indonesian military rampaged as East Timor's population voted overwhelmingly in favour of breaking away from Indonesia, which invaded in 1975.

"He also gave his perspective, as a former combatant who fought for 24 years, about relations between East Timor and Indonesia in the future," Babo added. "He asked the CTF to immediately find out the truth."

The CTF was established in 2005 but has no prosecution powers. It has been boycotted by the United Nations, which says those guilty of human rights violations should face justice.

The 10-member commission is preparing recommendations for Dili and Jakarta after hearing testimony from dozens of witnesses, including East Timor's prime minister Xanana Gusmao, who also spoke in a closed session, on Monday.

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