|Subject: LUSA: Return of Mahidi Militia
Chief Canceled for "Technical Reasons"
Also: Ex-Militia Leader Too Afraid to Return Home - Claim
07 Jan 02 19:40 East Timor: Return of Mahidi Militia Chief Canceled for ´Technical Reasons`
A former leading anti-idependence militia leader has canceled his planned return to East Timor. Cancio Lopes de Carvalho told the UN transition administration Monday he had canceled the trip for "technical reasons".
A spokesman in the UN administration told Lusa that Lopes de Carvalho had also informed them that his homecoming to the territory would be postponed "for an unspecified period".
Senior East Timorese and United Nations administration officials had been preparing earlier Monday in Dili to welcome home Lopes de Carvalho in one of the most dramatic steps yet taken at reconciliation with former backers of Indonesian rule.
Officials had announced at the weekend that the Mahidi militia chief would return from Indonesian West Timor Tuesday morning at Salele, where he was to have been met by independence leader Xanana Gusmao and UN transition administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, among others.
Lopes de Carvalho had said he was ready to face charges of crimes against humanity and to cooperate in providing evidence against Indonesian security forces in the wave of violence that shattered East Timor at the time of its UN-sponsored independence plebiscite in 1999.
Court sources in Dili said that witnesses have accused Lopes de Carvalho and his Mahidi paramilitaries of atrocities, especially in the area of Ainaro, south of the territory´s capital.
East Timorese and Indonesian officials had hoped that Lopes de Carvalho´s high-profile return would encourage tens of thousands of refugees remaining in West Timor to follow suit.
Jakarta has given the refugees, estimated by relief agencies at about 70,000, an ultimatum to either return to East Timor or face resettlement to other parts of Indonesia.
The UN High Commission for Refugees said that by last month nearly 193,000 had returned home.
A former leading anti-independence militia leader canceled his expected return to East Timor because of fear and lack of safety guarantees, a former militia leader now living in Indonesia claimed Tuesday.
In an email sent to Lusa in Dili, Basilio Araujo said that another reason for the indefinite postponement of Cancio Lopes de Carvalho`s homecoming was the standing down of the Chief of Staff of the UN transition administration in East Timor (UNTAET).
Lopes de Carvalho had dealt with this official until now and his departure had lead the ex-Mahidi militia chief to fear that nobody could, in the medium term, "guarantee the implementation of various agreements that had previously been established between Lopes de Carvalho and UNTAET".
"The other reason (for the delayed return) was due to information Cancio received from some refugees who recently returned to Cassa, Raimean and Ainaro and encountered hunger, restrictions on freedom of movement and their houses illegally occupied", wrote Araujo in his email message.
Senior East Timorese and UN administration officials had been preparing Monday in Dili to welcome home Lopes de Carvalho in an apparent dramatic step in reconciliation with former backers of Indonesian rule.
The ex-militia leader had said he was prepared to face charges of crimes against humanity and to cooperate in providing evidence against Indonesian security forces involved in the wave of violence that shattered East Timor at the time of the UN-sponsored independence referendum in 1999.
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