Subject: RT: Timor truth & friends commission gives U.N. another chance

Timor truth commission gives U.N. another chance

26 Oct 2007 10:44:03 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Ahmad Pathoni

JAKARTA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A commission investigating bloodshed during East Timor's 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia will offer United Nations officials another chance to testify, its co-chairman said on Friday.

The United Nations, which sponsored the vote, has boycotted hearings held by the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), arguing that the body set up by Indonesia and East Timor could recommend amnesty for those found guilty of gross human rights violations.

"We will invite them again because obviously information from U.N. officials and its former officials will contribute to the search for truth," commission co-chairman Benjamin Mangkoedilaga told reporters after meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono following the completion of its final hearings this week.

Hearings with United Nations officials can be conducted before the commission submits its final report sometime at the end of this year or in January, 2008, he said.

Pro-Jakarta militiamen, backed by members of the Indonesian army, rioted before and after the vote that ended 24 years of Jakarta rule, destroying much of the territory's infrastructure.

The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese were killed but Indonesian officials have told the truth commission that only about 100 people were killed.

The CTF was set up to promote reconciliation between Indonesia and East Timor, but critics say the commission is toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.

Some Indonesian officials and military officers testifying at CTF hearings have accused the United Nations agency organising the balloting of having rigged the vote in favour of independence.

They said anger among pro-Jakarta East Timorese over the perceived cheating triggered the mayhem.

Mangkoedilaga said East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta had told the commission not to be concerned about U.N. officials' boycotting the hearings and criticism of the body.

"He said just ignore the voices of those United Nations bureaucrats, because they are not the United Nations. The United Nations comprise countries including East Timor and Indonesia," he said.

"The findings of the CTF will be credible if they are accepted by the peoples of Indonesia and East Timor," he said.

Predominantly Catholic East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after more than two years of U.N. administration.

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