Subject: AAP:Indon special forces deny plot to kill Gusmao

March 8, 2001, Thursday

Indon special forces deny plot to kill Gusmao By Catharine Munro, South-East Asia Correspondent

JAKARTA, March 8 AAP - Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, today denied being behind any plot to assassinate East Timor's hero of independence, Xanana Gusmao.

Instead, a spokesman claimed that previous trauma at the hands of Kopassus troops had driven Gusmao to link the special forces to a suspected attack on his life in Dili yesterday.

"Xanana just said that off the cuff because he was traumatised by Kopassus who once arrested him," Kopassus spokesman Captain Farid said, according to Detik online news service.

Gusmao was arrested in Dili on November 20, 1992, and detained in Jakarta until being freed in 1999 when East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia.

Gusmao yesterday pointed the finger at Kopassus over a possible assassination attempt in Dili earlier in the day while he was addressing students in an auditorium.

UN police had apprehended three men, members of a fringe pro-independence political party, Democratic Republic of Timor Leste (RDTL), on suspicion of trying to kill Gusmao.

Gusmao later produced photographs, allegedly of the same three men, in the presence of Indonesian special forces officers and claimed the photographs were taken in 1994.

Kopassus is widely suspected of being behind covert operations in East Timor during Indonesia's occupation of the territory.

In Jakarta today, Captain Farid said it was impossible that there had been an operation to kill Gusmao because there were no longer Kopassus forces on the island of Timor.

"If the TNI (Indonesian military) commander does not order it, we do not do it," Farid said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for RDTL denied the party had plotted Gusmao's assassination.

"It's completely unfair, it's unacceptable, it's baseless," Cristiano Da Costa told AAP by telephone from Dili.

Da Costa said he had studied in Australia and had more links with Australia than Indonesia.

"I was put in jail from 1983 to 1985, my front teeth were broken by Indonesian soldiers, there's no way I'd have any links with the Indonesian army."

He claimed that Gusmao viewed his party as a threat.

"It's a card played by Xanana to discredit me ... Xanana is doing the wrong thing by playing that card," he said.

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