Subject: NZ backs Timor tribunal

Also NZGOV: Latest verdicts blow for East Timor justice; NZ condemns Indonesia's acquittal of alleged human rights abusers in E. Timor

NZ Herald

NZ backs Timorese tribunal

09.08.2004 By KEVIN TAYLOR

The Government is backing calls by human rights groups for an international tribunal to try those responsible for 1999 crimes in East Timor.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff yesterday criticised an Indonesian appeal court's decision to overturn convictions against four Indonesian security officers, one of them a major-general, who had been convicted by the country's Ad Hoc Tribunal.

The appeal court also halved to five years the sentence of militia leader Eurico Guterres.

Mr Goff said the decisions were a blow to those seeking justice for the terrible abuses during and after the Timor independence vote. International peacekeepers, including New Zealand soldiers, deployed to the country in force to stop the troubles.

Mr Goff said the United Nations was consulting concerned countries, including New Zealand, about how to respond.

"New Zealand's view is that the failure of the Ad Hoc Tribunal requires the establishment of an international crimes tribunal ... notwithstanding the opposition which might exist to this path being followed."

Mr Goff said of 18 original defendants, only two had been convicted, both of them ethnic Timorese.

The abuses came as East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia, sparking a spree of destruction and killing by pro-Jakarta forces in which up to 1500 people died.

Maire Leadbeater, of the Auckland-based Indonesia Human Rights Committee, said the trials had been "an unequivocal travesty" of justice.

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NZ condemns Indonesia's acquittal of alleged human rights abusers in E. Timor

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (DPA): New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has condemned an Indonesian court's decision to overturn convictions against four men accused of human rights abuses in East Timor.

The decision was a blow to those seeking justice for the human rights abuses in East Timor during 1999, Goff said in a statement issued on Monday.

He said the Indonesian Supreme Court had freed four members of Indonesia's security forces, one of them a major-general who had been convicted by Indonesia's Ad Hoc Tribunal. It also halved the 10-year sentence of militia leader Eurico Guterres.

"The Court has also upheld the earlier decisions of the Ad Hoc Tribunal to exonerate 10 others accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor. Of the 18 original defendants standing trial for these crimes, only two have been sentenced, and both happen to be ethnic Timorese," Goff said.

He said the Ad Hoc Tribunal's record repesented a failure to deliver justice and it meant an International Crimes Tribunal should be set up to try Indonesians accused of human rights abuses in Timor. (*)

August 09, 2004

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Latest verdicts blow for East Timor justice - Goff Monday, 9 August 2004, 9:22 am Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

8 August 2004 Media statement

Latest verdicts blow for East Timor justice, says Goff

An Indonesian court's decision to overturn convictions against four security officers is a blow to those seeking justice for the terrible human rights abuses that committed in East Timor in 1999, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

The Supreme Court freed four members of Indonesia's security forces, one of them a major-general, who had been convicted by Indonesia's Ad Hoc Tribunal. It also cut in half the 10-year sentence of militia leader Eurico Guterres.

"The Court has also upheld the earlier decisions of the Ad Hoc Tribunal to exonerate 10 others accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor. Right now, of the 18 original defendants standing trial for these crimes, only two have been sentenced, and both happen to be ethnic Timorese," Mr Goff said.

"New Zealand has consistently said that those responsible for the crimes committed in East Timor in 1999 must be brought to justice in a manner consistent with the standards of international law.

"I have previously expressed strong views about the inadequacy of the Ad Hoc Tribunal. This latest decision demonstrates that the system has failed utterly to hold to account those responsible for the taking of hundreds of innocent Timorese lives in 1999.

"The task of seeing justice done in this matter must now rest with the international community. The United Nations is consulting concerned countries, including New Zealand, about how to respond.

"New Zealand's view is that the failure of the Ad Hoc Tribunal requires the establishment of an International Crimes Tribunal in this area, notwithstanding the opposition which might exist to this path being followed.

"In the meantime, New Zealand continues to support the work of the Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor. We have also given substantial financial support to the East Timor government's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation which is doing important work in the area of restitutional justice," Mr Goff said.


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