Subject: RT: U.N. unhappy with Indonesian court on East Timor

Thursday April 26, 2:22 AM

U.N. unhappy with Indonesian court on East Timor

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations expressed concern on Wednesday over the restricted jurisdiction of a court set up by Indonesia to try those behind a wave of bloodshed after East Timor voted for independence in 1999.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard called the court's creation "a first step", saying the world body was unhappy that the tribunal was authorised only to look at crimes committed after East Timor's overwhelming vote to split from Indonesia in August 1999.

Some of the worst massacres, in which thousands may have died, took place in April, months before the vote. The violence erupted after Indonesia's military and police set up militias in an unsuccessful attempt to sway the U.N.-brokered independence election in East Timor.

"There is a concern about the dates," Eckhard said. "We would like to see a broader range of time included within the mandate of this special court, so that all the violations that occurred in East Timor could be prosecuted in this court."

A decree issued by Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on Tuesday said the court was authorised "to investigate and try causes of serious human rights violations that occurred in East Timor after the popular consultation" in August 1999.

When the territory voted to end Jakarta's rule, the government-backed militias laid waste to East Timor, killing hundreds and herding 300,000 men, women and children into Indonesian West Timor.

Suspects in the East Timor violence, including high-ranking members of the military, have avoided prosecution despite efforts by the Indonesian attorney-general to have cases brought to court.

Indonesia has been under heavy international pressure to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice.

"We have been watching and waiting for Indonesia to take action in this direction, and this is a first step," Eckhard said.

But presidential spokesman Yahya Staquf denied on Tuesday that the decree was aimed at placating foreign governments or international aid donors meeting in Jakarta this week to review the country's progress on economic reforms.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said on Wednesday that the government was ready to prosecute 18 men in the special court once it got under way.

Prosecutors had investigated 12 cases involving 18 suspects, including notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres, former provincial military chief Tono Suratman and other high-ranking officers, the spokesman said.

The special court is also authorised to hear cases related to a 1984 massacre of Muslim protesters near Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port by the military.

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