Subject: LUSA: Divided Timorese Grapple with Issue of Justice vs Reconciliation

25 May 01 12:03 East Timor: Divided Timorese Grapple with Issue of Justice vs Reconciliation

East Timorese leaders from both sides of the independence divide were grappling for a second day Friday with the sensitive issues of reconciliation and justice for atrocities committed in the name of Indonesia during the territory's 1999 independence plebiscite.

Before the start of the three-day meeting in Baucau Thursday, pro-Jakarta leader Tito Baptista questioned whether justice and reconciliation could advance together.

The meeting got underway in a cordial atmosphere, with the exchange of embraces between pro- and anti-independence delegations, including independence leader Xanana Gusmao.

Security, however, was tight, with UN police controlling entry into the city, 100 kms east of Dili, and using metal detectors for entry into the meeting hall.

"Justice is an adversary of reconciliation", Baptista, a senior member of the pro-Indonesia integration UNTAS movement, told Lusa Thursday.

"In my view, reconciliation does not move together with justice", he added, insisting that the anti-independence rampage had consisted of "political crimes" that should "not be tried normally".

Baptista, who heads a large delegation of anti-independence representatives who took refuge in West Timor, insisted that today there were no more militia bands operating from the Indonesian half of Timor island.

Transition cabinet Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta agreed that reconciliation was "complicated", but he told Lusa that "reconciliation without justice was impossible".

"Those who instigated violence and do not even show repentance must face justice", he said, while stressing the need for "peace and stability".

In opening the meeting Thursday, Gusmao urged the participants to go "beyond embraces" and advance towards reconciliation with "more soul and sense of responsibility".

The meeting is scheduled to end Saturday, with a news conference expected Friday night.

SAS -Lusa-

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