Subject: LUSA: Anti-independence Militia Leader Wants Amnesty on Rights Abuses

East Timor: Anti-independence Militia Leader Wants Amnesty on Rights Abuses 20 Abr-21:25

A top anti-independence militia leader has said that East Timor's reconciliation process must end with a general amnesty for perpetrators of human rights abuses in the territory.

"The pathway to peace exists, but there must be a general amnesty for those who committed crimes in East Timor, both before and after the (1999 independence) plebiscite", Cancio Lopes do Carvalho said during a live radio debate across the border in Indonesia.

"With a general amnesty, I believe people from East Timor can work together to develop the country. Fear will not pursue us and we can leave the past behind", he said.

Now in Indonesian West Timor, Lopes de Carvalho is leader of the Mahidi militia gang, which was formerly based in the East Timorese interior town of Ainaro.

"We are ready to sit down at the table of reconciliation. We are ready to talk to Xanana (East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao) and Bishop Belo, and with other leaders", he said, cited Friday by the Dili-based newspaper Suara Timor Lorosae.

"But people cannot be afraid. We have to have a guarantee that there will be no reprisals if they committed abuses. The circumstances are now very different", Lopes de Carvalho said.

UN officials and East Timorese leaders have until present said they were against any general amnesty, insisting on trials for suspects of violent crimes committed in East Timor in 1999, when the territory voted for independence from 24 years of Indonesian occupation.

A national reconciliation commission is in the process of being established, under which lesser crimes such as robbery, looting or property destruction will be remanded for judgement to East Timor's system of traditional justice.

JBC -Lusa

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