Subject: JP: UN to verify TNI's Timor role

Jakarta Post December 07, 1999

UN to verify TNI's Timor role

JAKARTA (JP): A United Nations commission conducting an inquiry into violence in East Timor, after comparing notes with Indonesian counterparts on Monday, said that both inquiries had found traces of evidence that the Indonesian Military (TNI) was responsible for violence following the Aug. 30 ballot in the territory.

However, no decision has been made on whether a war crimes tribunal can be established.

Costa Rican Sonia Picado from the UN commission, after meeting with the Indonesian government-sanctioned team on East Timor, said that the two commissions had drawn similar conclusions in their respective investigations.

"I have seen their reports, we have been talking about that and I can say to you that their conclusions and our conclusions are very much the same," Picado told reporters.

The nine-member national inquiry on East Timor, led by Albert Hasibuan, last week accused TNI of having knowledge of or ordering the mass violence in East Timor.

Picado said the commission's findings and interviews with over 160 witnesses indicated there were "important and serious violations (of human rights) that took place in East Timor".

"We have seen concrete violations of human rights, with regard to the rights to life, the rights to liberty and the rights to property.

"There is no question that there was total destruction of the country and systematic destruction of property. In some cities, almost 90 percent of the properties were destroyed," Picado claimed.

She also said the UN team interviewed a number of witnesses to verify reports that dozens of women were sexually assaulted in and outside the East Timor capital of Dili following the UN-sponsored ballot.

Picado, however, declined to say whether an international war crimes tribunal would be necessary to try those responsible.

"We cannot come to any conclusion at this point, it would not be right for us to come to any conclusion before we go back to Geneva," Picado said, adding that "that would be a decision of the UN secretary-general (Kofi Annan)".

The five-member UN mission on Friday completed a nine-day investigation into allegations of atrocities in East Timor.

During its stay in East Timor, the team traveled to Los Palos, Maliana, Suai and Liquica.

The team is expected to submit its recommendation to Annan by Dec. 31 on whether the United Nations should set up an international war crimes tribunal.

It will then report to the UN Security Council, which has the authority to set up a tribunal.

Other commission members are A.M. Ahmadi, former Indian chief justice; Mari Kappa, Papua New Guinean deputy chief justice; Judith Sefi Attah, a former Nigerian Cabinet minister of women's affairs; and Sabine Leutheubser-Schnarrenberger, a former German justice minister.

Picado previously served on the inter-American court of human rights, where she dealt with cases from Argentina as well as abuses in Brazil and Peru.

Picado said the team was scheduled to meet with Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono and Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab on Tuesday. Before leaving for Geneva on Wednesday, the team will also meet with Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

While she seemed pleased to have been given the chance to compare notes with her Indonesian counterparts, she was disappointed the team could not go to East Nusa Tenggara to meet refugees there.

"We cannot go to West Timor because unfortunately the visas were granted only on Thursday night at 10 p.m. and by now it is just too late for us to go to there," remarked Picado, who arrived in Jakarta from Darwin on Sunday. (byg)

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