Subject: U.N. policeman charged with rape in East Timor

U.N. policeman charged with rape in East Timor

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A civilian police officer with the U.N. peacekeeping operation in East Timor has been indicted on charges of raping an East Timorese woman and will be put on trial in the capital, Dili, the United Nations said on Friday.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard would not give the nationality of the policeman, but other sources confirmed he was a Jordanian, serving with the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor, known as UNTAET.

Eckhard said the policeman was indicted on Tuesday by the East Timor prosecutor-general for the rape, alleged to have taken place in a hotel room. He had been arrested on July 5 and has been imprisoned since then.

The trial is to take place in Dili district court.

In addition to the policeman, the United Nations and the prosecutor-general are investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by Jordanian soldiers in the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi last May. No charges have been filed to date in the probe, ordered by the UNTAET officials in mid-June.

In the case of peacekeepers, the United Nations usually has little power and refers complaints to the government in question and sends the offenders home for further prosecution.

But in East Timor and Kosovo, where the United Nations is administering the areas and has executive power, its police can investigate and charge suspects, usually civilians, with wrongdoing, U.N. officials said.

Jordanian military and legal experts were cooperating with the United Nations and could observe any possible trial, the officials added.

UNTAET has some 7,900 troops, 1,400 police from 40 different nations and about 1,000 civilian staff. It is administering the territory until independence, expected early next year. East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, voted for independence in August 1999.

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