Subject: LUSA: Militia Boss Guterres Questioned by Dili Investigators in Jakarta

East Timor: Militia Boss Guterres Questioned by Dili Investigators in Jakarta 23 Jan-13:58

Dili judicial officials, investigating atrocities committed in East Timor, interrogated militia chief Eurico Guterres for more than four hours Tuesday at Indonesia's attorney general's offices in Jakarta.

Indonesian sources told Lusa the previously unannounced interrogation was carried out by Dili's attorney general for serious crimes, Mohamed Chande Othman, and investigator Oylvin Olsen.

No details of the unprecedented meeting were made public.

The UN spokeswoman in Jakarta, Elizabeth Morsey, confirmed the meeting but told Lusa it was not an interrogation.

"It was an informal encounter to see whether Eurico Guterres is prepared for a more formal meeting for questioning in the context of the memorandum of understanding", she said, referring to an agreement between Dili and Jakarta for cooperation in investigations into human rights abuses in East Timor.

Guterres, she added, had agreed to a second meeting which should take place "in the next few weeks".

The chief of the notorious Aitarak militia, however, denied he had accepted the plan, telling journalists he would only cooperate if East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao also submitted to interrogation for "crimes" during the guerrilla war against Indonesian occupation.

The meeting took place only hours after senior Dili official Jose Ramos Horta held talks with Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

Guterres' interrogation, Ramos Horta told Lusa, was a "sign that things are moving in the right direction" in Indonesia's pledge to investigate and try those responsible for the wave of violence that accompanied East Timor's independence plebiscite in 1999.

Guterres is already standing trial in Jakarta on charges of illegal weapons possession and ordering his West Timor-based paramilitaries to resist Jakarta's attempts to disarm them.

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