Subject: RT: E.Timor PM defends military chief over U.N.

Also UN report recommends E Timor charges

E.Timor PM defends military chief over U.N. inquiry

By Lirio da Fonseca

Reuters

Wednesday, October 18, 2006; 7:50 AM

DILI (Reuters) - East Timor's prime minister stood by the chief of the armed forces on Wednesday, after a U.N. inquiry called for his prosecution over the arming of civilians during a wave of violence in the tiny nation in May.

Tuesday's report, prepared by a U.N. appointed Independent Special Commission of Inquiry, recommended that former interior minister Rogerio Lobato, military chief Taur Matan Ruak and several others be prosecuted for illegal distribution of weapons.

"I have spoken with the Chief of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak and I am reiterating my full confidence in him and in his leadership," Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said in a statement.

"Throughout the crisis the senior command of F-FDTL (East Timor's defense forces) showed zeal and discipline," he said.

The 79-page report also called for a further investigation into former prime minister Mari Alkatiri to determine whether he should face criminal charges. Alkatiri stepped down under pressure in June.

Alkatiri, who heads the dominant Fretilin party in parliament, has been widely blamed for the violence which erupted after fighting within the armed forces spiralled into rioting, arson and looting in the streets of the capital, Dili.

The violence, triggered by the dismissal of about 600 soldiers, left more than 30 people dead and more than 150,000 displaced.

Ramos-Horta said the military leadership had not engaged in any cover up and an international commission had verified that all weapons given to ex-fighters had been surrendered and were accounted for.

Ramos-Horta, who last week urged foreign forces to stay until 2007 elections, described the U.N. team's work as impartial and independent and said East Timor's courts would be responsible for further investigations and prosecutions.

Australia in late May led a force of more than 3,000 peacekeepers to end the fighting, which pitted ethnic gangs and East Timor's fledgling police and military against one another.

President Xanana Gusmao on Tuesday urged parliament to "quickly take political and legislative or legal actions based on the materials in the commission's report."

But Elizario Fereira, head of the Fretilin faction in parliament, said the legislature was not in the position to take legal action and it should be left to the judiciary.

"We don't have the authority to launch investigations. We only have the power to issue political decisions," he said, adding that Fretilin accepted the report.

Alkatiri's Fretilin has nearly two-thirds of the seats in the 88-member body, as well as a number of cabinet posts.

The territory of around a million people voted in a bloody 1999 referendum for independence from Indonesia, which annexed East Timor after colonial masters Portugal withdrew in 1975.

East Timor was run by the United Nations for 2- years before becoming independent in 2002.

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UN report recommends E Timor charges

AFP October 18, 2006

JAKARTA: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the East Timorese today to accept the conclusions of an inquiry by the world body into deadly violence that rocked Dili earlier this year.

The inquiry's report was released yesterday and called for former prime minister Mari Alkatiri and a series of senior government officials and security force members to be criminally investigated or prosecuted over the unrest.

"Today I urge you as a nation to accept the report's conclusions and recommendations and to act on them in the constructive manner in which they were formulated," Annan said in a statement released from New York.

"We know that a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Timor-Leste (East Timor) can be built only on the foundations of good governance, accountability, human rights and the rule of law."

The inquiry was carried out at the request of Dili, as the government reeled from the worst violence on its soil since it gained independence in 2002.

Its mandate was to clarify the facts surrounding events in April and May that led to 37 deaths, and recommend measures to hold accountable those responsible for crimes committed during that period.

"Once again, the world is looking to Timor-Leste with hope and expectation. If you now live up to the democratic values enshrined in your constitution, your country can yet emerge strengthened from this experience, with a renewed spirit of community and nationhood," Annan added.

The unrest flared following the dismissal of soldiers who had deserted, complaining of discrimination from their superiors based on whether they came from the east or west of the small nation.

Analysts say politicians harbouring decades-old grievances against each other took advantage of the soldiers' disgruntlement to aggravate the tensions.

Battles between security force factions degenerated into bloody street violence involving youth gangs.

More than 150,000 people fled their homes and some 3000 Australian-led peacekeepers were deployed to restore calm.


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