Subject: AFP: Indonesia, East Timor may seek foreign funds for peace commission

October 10, 2005

Indonesia, East Timor may seek foreign funds for peace commission

DILI (AFP): Indonesia and its former territory East Timor may seek foreign funding for their Commission of Truth and Friendship investigating past bloodshed, East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said Monday.

Horta said that for the initial six months, the two countries have raised a total of US$1.5 million to fund the commission that was set up in August to investigate the 1999 violence surrounding East Timor's push for independence from Jakarta.

Horta said this was more than the commission itself had sought for the first six months, but after that there would be a review of whether it needs more cash.

"If needed, Indonesia and Timor Leste (East Timor) will subsidize it and also if needed we will seek support from the international community," Horta said.

The 10-member commission is similar to South Africa's post-apartheid body. It has said it plans to talk to former East Timorese rebel leaders, top Indonesian military officers and former pro-Jakarta militiamen.

Militia gangs, which the United Nations has said were recruited and directed by Indonesia's military, went on an arson and killing spree before and after East Timorese voted for independence in a UN-sponsored ballot in August 1999.

They killed about 1,400 independence supporters and laid waste to much of the infrastructure in the half-island which Indonesia invaded in 1975.

An Indonesian court set up to try military officers and officials for atrocities in East Timor has drawn international criticism.

Of the 18 people tried by the rights court, 17 have now been acquitted and one is still appealing.

East Timor gained full independence in May 2002 after more than two years of United Nations stewardship.

The government opposes calls for an international tribunal for suspects, saying the priority is reconciliation with its giant neighbor. (***)

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