Subject: JP: Timor says relations with Indonesia more important then justice


The Jakarta Post March 5, 2003

Dili says relations with RI more important then justice

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia and East Timor agreed to bury the hatchet and put bilateral relations between them before the ongoing legal process against Indonesian officials implicated in human rights violations during Jakarta's occupation of East Timor.

During his brief visit here, East Timor's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos Horta apparently told officials that Dili would ignore the recent recommendation by the United Nations special crimes unit to East Timor's attorney general to indict former and active Indonesian Military (TNI) officers in order to maintain good relations with Jakarta.

"The relationship between Timor Leste and Indonesia is far too important for any issue that might arise to discourage us or to derail this relationship," he told a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirayuda following their meeting on Monday.

"Within the framework of our constitution, we will try to find ways and means how the issue of justice is served but also to avoid, in the pursuit of justice, any misunderstanding between Timor Leste and Indonesia."

Horta made the visit upon President Xanana Gusmao's order to clarify the recent UN special crime unit recommendation on Feb. 24 to declare the Indonesian military and civilians suspects in crimes against humanity prior to and after the independence ballot in 1999.

Among the officers were Gen. (ret). Wiranto, Maj. Gen. Zaky Anwar Makarim, Lt. Gen. (ret) Kiki Syahnakri, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, Brig. Gen. Suhartono Suratman and Col. Yayat Sudrajat.

Gusmao earlier expressed disappointment with the recommendation, saying he should have been consulted first.

Hassan told the joint press conference on Monday that the two countries had agreed to work together and would not let the past issues affect bilateral relations between the neighboring states.

Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs director for East Asia Primo Alwi Julianto said that during the meeting, Hassan said that Dili should not push ahead with the recommendation in order to maintain bilateral relations with Jakarta.

"Explicitly, Horta said that Dili would not go ahead with the recommendation to the international tribunal, but could not stop the ongoing national process at his attorney general's office," Primo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The official reiterated that as long as the process remained confined to Dili's attorney general's office, it would not affect non-East Timorese citizens.

"The recommendation will only matter should the East Timor government file a lawsuit against the officials with the UN International Court of Justice, which Horta said will not be done," Primo said.

Primo added Horta referred the settlement through the truth and reconciliation commission as the best solution to resolve the cases of murder, deportation and persecution.

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

E.Timor distances itself from Indonesia indictments

JAKARTA, March 3 (Reuters) - The East Timor government on Monday sought to distance itself from indictments issued against a former Indonesian armed forces chief over violence that ravaged the tiny territory in 1999.

On a brief visit to Indonesia, East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said he had come to Jakarta to make clear that the territory's ties with its giant neighbour were too important to be undermined by issues such as the indictments.

Prosecutors from East Timor's Serious Crimes Unit last week charged scores of people, including Indonesia's then military chief General Wiranto, with crimes against humanity over the terrority's bloody 1999 vote to break from Jakarta's rule.

Indonesian reaction to the indictments has been relatively muted, partly because the government has already ruled out sending any of its former officials to East Timor to stand trial.

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao criticised the indictments last week.

But Ramos-Horta told reporters after meeting his Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirajuda, the East Timor government would not interfere with the work of the Serious Crimes Unit.

But Ramos-Horta said the government would try to find ways to pursue justice over the carnage without creating misunderstandings with Indonesia. He did not elaborate.

"The relationship between East Timor and Indonesia is far too important for any issue that might arise to...derail this relationship," Ramos-Horta said.

The United Nations created the serious crimes unit when it ran East Timor in the aftermath of the violence in which more than 1,000 people were killed, according to U.N. estimates.

East Timor become formally independent in May last year.

Most of the violence in East Timor was blamed on pro-Jakarta militias acting with Indonesian military backing.

Indonesian human rights courts have been running their own trials over the violence, so far handing down verdicts in the cases of 15 out of 18 suspects. Those courts have only convicted four people so far, drawing criticism from rights groups.

Wiranto himself was not charged in that process. He denies any wrongdoing.

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