Subject: Evidence of human rights abuses in Timor vanishing: de Mello

Evidence of human rights abuses in Timor vanishing: de Mello

OEKUSSI, East Timor, Nov 24 (AFP) - Evidence of human rights abuses is disappearing while East Timor waits for the arrival of foreign forensic experts, the head of the UN commission in East Timor said Wednesday.

"I am hoping that we get a quick response from those countries that can help us, as they did from day one in Kosovo," said Sergio Vieira de Mello who heads the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET.)

He made the comments here after visiting a church compound in the town of Suai where he saw some evidence to back allegations of a mass murder there. Multinational forces and residents have said they had found several bodies in a well in a compound there.

De Mello said requests had already been made to countries that can provide forensic teams, pathologists, and special police investigators.

"I am hoping that they will react very quickly because as we saw today, many crime scenes have been tampered with -- people are having free access to these areas. Moreover, the heat and the rain are likely to further destroy the evidence," he said.

"Only in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has the UN its own forensic team," he said.

"I have been in touch with New York. In fact, I requested support even before I left New York," said de Mello who took up his East Timor post about 10 days ago.

A UN inquiry panel is to arrive in East Timor on Thursday to look into possible human right violations.


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