Subject: Indonesia says tribunal will hear pre-ballot crimes in East Timor

Indonesia says tribunal will hear pre-ballot crimes in East Timor

JAKARTA, April 26 (AFP) - All crimes committed in East Timor in 1999 and investigated by Indonesia's Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) will be tried here soon, a spokesman for the Indonesian Attorney General said Thursday.

It will not matter if the acts occurred before or after East Timor's independence ballot, said Mulyoharjo (eds: one name).

The official was responding to concern voiced by the United Nations Wednesday that Indonesia's ad-hoc human rights tribunal is only mandated to hear crimes committed after the August 30 ballot.

"Any crime which has been investigated by Komnas Ham constitutes a gross violation of human rights, and will therefore be heard by the tribunal, whether it occurred before or after the ballot," the spokesman told AFP.

Komnas Ham had investigated crimes carried out before the August 30, 1999 vote, said Mulyoharjo.

President Abdurrahman Wahid issued a decree Monday authorising the tribunal to hear cases of gross human rights violations that took place in East Timor after the ballot.

In New York on Wednesday Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said there was concern about dates. Annan has said that violations which took place in the eight months preceding the ballot must also be investigated.

"We would like to see a broader range of time included within the mandate of this special court so that all the violations that occurred in East Timor can be prosecuted," Eckhard added.

But Mulyoharjo insisted the main factor determining whether a case could be heard by the court was not when the incident occurred, but if it had been investigated by Komnas Ham.

"If they have been investigated by Komnas Ham, they are considered gross human rights violations, and will therefore be investigated and heard by the tribunal," he said.

The AGO has prepared 12 dossiers concerning two crimes from April 1999 that were investigated by Komnas Ham to present to the tribunal.

One was an attack on the Dili home of independence figure Manuel Carrascalao, in which at least 12 people were killed, and the other was the slaughter of refugees in a church in Liquica.

Mulyoharjo said crimes before the ballot which were not investigated by Komnas Ham constituted regular crimes, and should be prosecuted under general law in the normal courts.

The 12 dossiers contain information on several senior military and police officers and notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres.

Four militia leaders who had been declared suspects by Indonesian prosecutors have been crossed off the list, because "we haven't been able to find them," Mulyoharjo told AFP.

But one of the four, Izidio Manek, was spotted by journalists in a West Timor refugee camp last week.

Indonesia has faced heavy criticism from the international community for its failure to prosecute anyone over the army-backed militia-led orgy of killing, rape, and destruction two years ago.

The violence was unleashed in the months before and after a UN-sponsored ballot, which produced a four-to-one vote in favour of independence.

The UN Human Rights commission reported to Annan in January last year that hundreds of people were killed and about 250,000 were forced across the border into West Timor. A recent report to the UN put the number killed at 2,000.

Eckhard recalled that the UN Security Council postponed a decision on setting up an international tribunal after Indonesia said it would hold its own inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor.

"We have been watching and waiting for Indonesia to take some action, and this is a first step," Eckhard said.

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