Subject: AFP: Indon army captain released by rebels in East Timor

Indonesian army captain released by rebels in East Timor

DILI, East Timor, Oct 27 (AFP) - An Indonesian army captain held captive for almost two months by pro-independence guerrillas has been released, clearing the way for the last Indonesian troops to leave East Timor, the UN said Wednesday.

"Captain Hartawan of the TNI was released by Falintil and handed over to UNAMET for return to the Indonesian authorities on 26 October, 1999, " the UN Transitional Authority for East Timor (UNTAET) said in a statement.

He had been in Falintil hands since September 7.

"The TNI captain was tired but in good physical shape," it said.

The UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) chief military liaison officer, Brigadier General Rezaqul Haider, went to the Falintil cantonment at Remexio and met with Falintil guerrilla chief Xanana Gusmao to effect the handover, the statement said.

"He was then brought to UNAMET headquarters in Dili and dressed in a TNI uniform. Captain Harawan was officially handed over to authorities of the Indonesian task force."

The release of Hartawan paves the way for the withdrawal of around 1,000 Indonesia troops still based in Dili. Officers had reportedly told UNAMET they would not leave until Hartawan was safely in their hands.

Guards at the TNI headquarters here could not confirm whether Hartawan was still in Dili Wednesday but in Jakarta the state Anatra news agency said the captain would return to Indonesia with the remaining troops.

Colonel Mark Kelly of the international force Interfet could not give a firm date for the departure of the Indonesian troops.

"We are wating for final confirmation, and there are indications it will be soon," he said.

Kelly said preparations for the final departure were continuing and that a large amphibious Indonesian ship had removed heavy equipment in the past few days.

Discussions were underway over the possibility of some simple ceremony to mark the departure of the last Indonesian troops, he added.

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