Subject: JP: Xanana, East Timor leaders face human rights questioning

Read response from Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation  

The Jakarta Post February 27, 2002

Xanana, East Timor leaders face human rights questioning

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

The East Timor Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation is planning to question several proindependence leaders, including Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao, for allegedly committing human rights abuses in the territory during the period of April 1974 to October 1999.

According to the chairman of the commission, Aniceto Guterres Lopes, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta, leaders of East Timor's proindependence armed wing Falintil Taur Matan Ruak and Francisco Guterres, as well as Mari Alkatiri will also be questioned in connection with alleged atrocities that took place during East Timor's turbulent time.

"Those who are proven guilty of gross human rights abuses could be charged under East Timor Government Regulation No. 15/2000 on jurisdiction panels for serious crimes," Aniceto told a media conference, without specifying the date of the summons.

The Dili-based commission, which comprises seven personnel would submit their findings to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) for further proceedings.

The questioning will cover the level and causes of human rights abuse, as well as the circumstances and motive for the crimes.

The recently established truth commission is charged with establishing the facts about human rights violations committed between April 1974 and October 1999. It also supports the reintegration of people who have committed minor criminal offenses or harmful acts through a community-based reconciliation process.

Xanana led an armed resistance movement against Indonesia after the country incorporated the former Portuguese colony into its territory in 1976.

Aniceto completed on Tuesday his two-day visit to West Timor, where he also visited camps sheltering East Timorese who fled their ravaged homeland following a UN-administered self-determination vote in August 1999.

Meanwhile, the much-awaited ad hoc tribunal will soon take place in Jakarta to try those held accountable for human rights abuses in 1999.

Three army generals, a police general and a number of middle-ranking officers are among the 19 suspects facing trial for the crimes.

They include former Udayana Military commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, former Wiradharma Military Resort commanders in Dili Brig. Gen. Suhartono Suratman and Brig. Gen. M. Noer Muis and former East Timor police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen. Former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto was initially one of those implicated, but the Attorney General's Office took his name off the list.

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