Subject: SMH: UN turns up heat on Indon to prosecute military for E Timor atrocities

Sydney Morning Herald June 14, 2001

UN turns up heat on Jakarta to prosecute military for East Timor atrocities

By Hamish McDonald, Foreign Editor

The United Nations is running out of patience with the Indonesian Government's move to avoid prosecuting army, police and militia suspects over atrocities in East Timor before the 1999 independence ballot.

Implicit in the UN's concern is awareness that pressure will quickly mount for the world body to set up an international war crimes tribunal for East Timor if Indonesia fails soon to show it is determined to carry out serious prosecutions.

There is a feeling in human rights circles that if a credible trial process is not initiated by the beleaguered President Abdurrahman Wahid, there is even less prospect if he is replaced by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Jakarta caused international concern when Mr Wahid's long-awaited decree setting up a special tribunal for East Timor limited its jurisdiction to crimes committed after the August 30, 1999 vote - an apparent concession to the military.

This would rule out several of the serious crimes committed by militias before the ballot, including massacres of independence supporters in Liquica and Dili in April, as well as bringing army generals to account for the overall militia campaign to intimidate East Timor's population.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, contacted the Indonesian Government recently to ask for this time limit on prosecutions in a new tribunal to be lifted, it was revealed yesterday.

The head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, said he would take up the issue in talks next week with the new Attorney-General, Mr Baharudin Lopa, and was also in touch with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, about it.

Mr Vieira de Mello was speaking after an address at Sydney University yesterday about East Timor's prospects ahead of its first free elections on August 30, for a new constituent assembly.

On the question of justice for the events of 1999, he said his dealings over about 18 months with the previous Indonesian attorney-general, Mr Marzuki Darusman - whom Mr Wahid sacked a fortnight ago - "gave me hopes that they [the Indonesian authorities] were genuine".

Mr Darusman had assured him that a new presidential decree lifting the time limit was being drafted. The UN was now calling on Jakarta to accelerate the drafting of that decree and its promulgation.

"How much longer can we wait is open to discussion," he said. "That is a call for the Secretary-General and the Security Council to make. But I agree there will be no peace, there will be no security in the longer term, unless justice for these very serious crimes is done.''


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