Subject: U.N. urges East Timor not to drop violence probe

U.N. urges East Timor not to drop violence probe

By Tito Belo 1 hour, 4 minutes ago

DILI (Reuters) - The United Nations urged on Thursday East Timor not to let those responsible for bloodshed surrounding Dili's 1999 independence vote from Indonesia off the hook, pledging to provide support to prosecute perpetrators. 

Leaders in East Timor and Indonesia said last month that the case was closed after expressing regret at the findings of a joint truth commission that blamed Indonesian security and civilian forces for "gross human rights violations."

The two governments set up the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in 2005 to look into the violence, during which the United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese died, but it had no power to prosecute, prompting criticism that it served to whitewash atrocities. It was boycotted by the U.N.

"We still support the process of prosecution through Serious Crime Unit investigation," said Allison Cooper, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s mission in East Timor, referring to a body set by the United Nations to assist East Timor's prosecutors' office.

"CTF is only one mechanism of addressing or looking what atrocities may have happened in the country, (but) there is also something called prosecution," she said, adding Serious Crime Unit officials would visit Dili soon to talk to the prosecutor general about the issue.

The CTF did not name perpetrators, but also did not recommend an amnesty. Rights groups have been pressing for justice.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao told Reuters in an interview last month that he was satisfied with the report and that it was now time to move on.

The former Portuguese colony, invaded by Indonesia in 1975, won independence in the violence-marred vote organized by the United Nations in 1999. It became fully independent in 2002 after a period of U.N. administration.

(Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Ed Davies and Sanjeev Miglani)

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