Subject: UNTAET allows Indonesian military probe team into East Timor

UNTAET allows Indonesian military probe team into East Timor

JAKARTA, Dec 26 (AFP) - A team of lawyers defending a group of Indonesian generals accused of masterminding post ballot violence in East Timor have received the green light from UN officials to enter the territory next week, a report said Sunday.

Team coordinator former justice minister Muladi (eds: one name) said the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) "has issued us with an entry permit to enter East Timor," Kompas daily reported.

"We will use this opportunity, we will fly directly from Jakarta to Dili on a jet plane and there won't be any stopovers like the previous team headed by Adnan Buyung Nasution," he reportedly said.

He was referring to a fact finding team headed by lawyer Nasution which was refused entry into East Timor earlier this month, with UNTAET saying the request for a permission to enter the territory had been made too suddenly.

"The sooner we depart, the better. I'm hoping it will be next week but the day has yet to be decided," Muladi said.

Nasution has accused the International Forces in East Timor (Interfet) of committing "an obstruction of justice" by barring them from Dili, an allegation which Interfet has denied.

Mulaid said the team was allowed to only have five men for the visit due to "consideration of security, accommodation and transportation."

He added the team was currently waiting for UNTAET's permission to interview several witnesses to "even out data and information" obtained by the state-backed Commission of Human Rights Abuses in East Timor (KPP HAM).

A source close to the team told AFP on Sunday that the lawyers also intended to meet Baucau Bishop Basilio do Nascimento and National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) President Xanana Gusmao.

The lawyers are defending several senior army officers -- including powerful former armed forces chief General Wiranto -- who have been indirectly accused by KPP HAM of "having the knowledge and masterminding" the September mayhem.

However Wiranto told the commission on Friday that "there had been no plan or policy for either a genocide or crimes against humanity in East Timor" which voted to secede from Indonesia in August.

Other than Wiranto, the commission has also called five other generals and several top pro-Indonesia militia leaders to answer questions over their "knowledge and involvement" in the violence that followed the pro-independence ballot in East Timor.

The militias, which the United Nations, the KPP HAM and other observers have said were backed by elements of the Indonesian army, devastated the territory and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

KPP HAM, a subsidiary commission under the National Commission on Human Rights, was set up in response to a UN inquiry into the East Timor violence.

Indonesia has said it was capable of investigating allegations of atrocities and human rights abuses itself, and that it will not be bound by the UN findings.

The UN panel is to report to Secretary General Kofi Annan before December 31 to enable him to decide on the follow up, including whether an international war crimes tribunal is needed.

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