Subject: AP/Dili: Rights Groups Say Justice Still Long Way Off For E Timor

Associated Press January 25, 2001

Rights Grps Say Justice Still Long Way Off For E Timor

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Human rights activists Friday welcomed the first successful prosecution of an East Timorese militiaman implicated in the 1999 post-independence ballot rampage, but said Indonesian commanders responsible for the bloodshed have yet to face justice.

New York-based Human Rights Watch accused U.N. investigators in East Timor of only targeting low ranking militia members.

"All the key perpetrators of the 1999 violence remain in Indonesia, and prosecutions there are totally stalled," said Joe Saunders, the agency's deputy director for Asia.

"There has been no evidence - in either Jakarta or Dili - of a systematic strategy to prosecute the top militia commanders or the Indonesian officers behind them," Human Rights Watch said in a statement received in East Timor's capital of Dili.

However, East Timor's top U.N. prosecutor Oyvind Olsen said investigators had already issued an arrest warrant for militia leader Eurico Guterres.

Guterres is standing trial in Jakarta on unrelated weapons offenses allegedly committed in West Timor last year.

Olsen said prosecutors would soon indict other militia commanders and members of Indonesia's military.

An international court Thursday sentenced 22-year-old pro-Indonesian militiaman Joao Fernandes to 12 years in prison for murdering a pro-independence activist a week after the territory voted for independence in August, 1999.

Hundreds of people died and most of East Timor was destroyed when the Indonesian army and its local auxiliaries went on a rampage after the U.N.-sponsored plebiscite.

Some 250,000 East Timorese were forced from their homes and many fled to West Timor. Tens of thousands are still waiting for repatriation to East Timor. Most militiamen also fled with the retreating Indonesian troops.

The U.N. is administering East Timor during its transition to full independence, expected next year.

About 60 other militiamen implicated in the violence are in detention in East Timor waiting for their trials to start.

Indonesian prosecutors have named 23 suspects, including several senior army officers, in connection with the events of 1999. But none of them has been charged.

See also:
ETAN Press Release: East Timor Still Awaits Justice One Year After UN Inquiry Called for International Tribunal (1/31/01)

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