Subject: Lusa: Dili worried indictments damaging key relations with Jakarta

Also: Xanana on The Indictment by the Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes Of Indonesian Officers for Events in Timor-Leste During 1999

28-02-2003 17:18:00 GMT

East Timor: Dili worried indictments damaging key relations with Jakarta

Dili, Feb. 28 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmao, worried by the impact of Dili's indictments of senior Indonesian officials for crimes against humanity, held an urgent meeting Friday with other East Timorese leaders in search of ways to safeguard critical relations with Jakarta.

"We've decided to work to see if we can find a solution for all this situation that is affecting or could affect our relations with Indonesia", Gusmao said after the talks.

The 90-minute meeting gathered Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta with Gusmao, just returned from the Non-aligned Movement summit in Malaysia.

"For us, relations with Indonesia are of extreme importance, not only for current stability but also for the future of the country", Gusmao said.

He stressed that any initiative by Dili over the indictments issued Tuesday by the attorney general's office would "respect the constitution", while seeking to protect broader "national interests".

Tuesday's indictments, which were followed by another round of indictments Friday, targeted General Wiranto, Jakarta's defense minister and armed forces chief in 1999 when pro-Indonesian militias rampaged during East Timor's independence plebiscite.

Indicted along with Gen. Wiranto were former Governor Abílio Osório Soares and six other senior Indonesian army officers.

Some observers told Lusa that Gusmao's stance served as a "message" to the United Nations that it should not try to shunt responsibility for trying the 1999 atrocities onto Dili's shoulders.

Prio to the Dili leadership meeting, Gusmao issued a statement saying: "I cannot accept or agree with the methods used in this (indictment) process".

Nevertheless, the president said he accepted the decision of the attorney general's office, which is staffed in part by UN- appointed prosecutors, even though it had been taken in the absence of the attorney general and while the head of state was abroad.

Gusmao, just returned from the Kuala Lumpur summit, said he had learned about the indictments from media reports.

"I have repeatedly stated that I don't consider the international court, and even less so one in Timor, a priority when we are faced with such problems in this period of construction", said Gusmao.

The Timorese leader highlighted the process of the national reconciliation in his country and said this must involve "the last 29 years and not just 1999".

"Pain felt by direct and indirect victims of the successive acts of violence committed goes back to 1974 and not 1999".

Gusmao's communique also referred to Jakarta's efforts in the past three years to build "relations of respect and friendship with East Timor".

It is essential to foster a good relationship with Jakarta and ensure "intensification of dialog in all areas, including ones as sensitive as this", he said.

Several senior Jakarta officials have slammed the Dili court's indictments and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda rejected the charges, saying the Timorese court had no juristiction in Indonesia.

The speaker of the Jakarta People's Consultative Assembly, Amien Rais, called the charges "offensive and degrading" for Indonesia.


Statement by His Excellency KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

28 February 2003


I was informed by the media on 25 February, whilst attending the Non Aligned Movement Summit in Kuala Lumpur that the Deputy Prosecutor General for Serious Crimes has decided to indict seven high ranking Indonesian officers and the former-Governor Abílio Osório Soares for crimes against Humanity.

In my capacity as President, I have repeatedly stated my position on the path to be taken to overcome for good any residual feelings regarding September 1999.

I have also repeatedly stated that given the numerous problems the country faces in the reconstruction process, an International Tribunal is not a priority, least of all in Timor-Leste.

I wish to hereby reaffirm this position and avoid any further doubts, in particular after the filing of the indictments with the Dili District Court and the request for arrest warrants to the Dili court and, soon, to Interpol.

I wish to recall that the Serious Crimes Unit was established by the United Nations at a time when it held responsibility for setting up and administering the Judiciary in Timor-Leste.

The Constitution enshrines the independent nature of the Courts and the Judiciary as an organ of sovereignty. Therefore, in full respect for the Constitution, I respect the decision made. However, I cannot accept or agree with the methodology adopted in this process. The Constitution enshrines the accountability of the General Prosecutor to the Head of State. But I must regret that the Office of the General Prosecutor, whilst the General Prosecutor is abroad, did not postpone this matter until my return to Timor-Leste.

The President has the right and the duty to assess the impact of a decision such as this one and to express an opinion. Therefore, as previously stated, I consider it is not of national interest to hold a legal process such as this one in Timor-Leste. There are three major reasons for this:

1. Timor-Leste must pursue the process of national reconciliation according to the path taken to this date, i.e., taking into account the history of the past 29 years rather than looking solely to 1999. The grief experienced by the direct or indirect victims of the successive acts of violence perpetrated in Timor-Leste dates back to 1974 and not to 1999;

2. If the international community, via the Security Council, endowed UNTAET and UNMISET with a mandate to bring to justice those responsible for violence and destruction in Timor-Leste in 1999, then the international community must hold the responsibility for administering that justice and organising the structures and mechanisms to that effect;

3. During the past three and a half years, the institutions of the Republic of Indonesia - from the Government of former President Abduhrraman Wahid to the current Government of Her Excellency President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the TNI as an institution - have been an example of State effort to build with Timor-Leste a relationship based on respect and a good neighbourly rapport. I consider the continued good relationship with Indonesia crucial in this process as well as the intensification of dialogue in all sectors, including, on issues as sensitive as this one is.

In ending, I must say that I remain convinced that peace, stability and progress in Timor-Leste greatly depend on the relationship we will forge with the Republic of Indonesia.

I also firmly believe that this case will not be felt by the State institutions and the People of Indonesia as reason to change the positive relationship between both States.

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