Subject: RT: U.N. Timor envoy calls for war crimes trials

U.N. Timor envoy calls for war crimes trials

GENEVA, April 5 (Reuters) - The United Nations transitional administrator in East Timor called on Thursday for greater efforts to prosecute for war crimes those responsible for killings that followed the territory's 1999 independence vote.

In a speech to the annual session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello urged East Timor to cooperate more closely to achieve this with Indonesia, whose rule Dili rejected with the vote less than two years ago.

Vieira de Mello welcomed a recent proposal by Indonesia's parliament to set up an ad hoc tribunal to deal with abuses committed in East Timor. He said he hoped President Abdurrahman Wahid would quickly endorse this initial step.

Enormous progress has been made since October 1999 when there was no judicial system in East Timor, reeling from violence by pro-Jakarta militias after the vote to end 24 years of Indonesian rule, Vieira de Mello said. The first democratic elections in Timor are set for August 30.

A special panel set up at Dili District Court to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes surrounding the independence ballot has issued 20 indictments, mainly for murders, he said. Three people have been convicted of murder.

Hearings will start in May linked to two indictments for crimes against humanity, he added. One involves five defendants charged with repeated rape and in the other, 11 defendants stand accused of the massacre of priest and nuns, he said.

"Despite the progress, UNTAET faces a significant hurdle in being able to bring those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in East Timor to justice," Vieira de Mello told the 53-member state U.N. rights forum in Geneva.

"Most of the individuals who are currently being dealt with by the special panel were the actual murderers, arsonists and rapists involved in the 1999 violence. Those who planned, organised and directed the campaign of violence remain outside the jurisdiction of East Timor.

"It is very important that Jakarta and Dili act in greater concert to ensure that these individuals are also brought to justice, whether in Indonesia or East Timor," Vieira de Mello said.

He noted that it had been almost one year since the Indonesian government began its investigation into crimes in East Timor, and seven months since the first list of 22 suspects in five "particularly egregious crimes" had been made public.

He also said aid agencies were trying to resolve the plight of 60,000 to 100,000 East Timorese refugees still in West Timor. But militia still intimidated the refugees from going home, he said.

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