|Subject: LUSA: Dili will present common
front on Jakarta verdicts
16-08-2002 14:32:00. Notícia nº 4007918 Lusa
East Timor: Dili will present common front on Jakarta verdicts, says Ramos Horta
East Timor is preparing a "joint position" on the verdicts of the Jakarta court, currently trying those deemed responsible for the violence in Timor in 1999, and Dili will examine all options to rectify shortcomings in Indonesia`s judicial system, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said Friday.
"From the beginning, the Timorese government has sought not to make significant comment, or add to the general chorus of skepticism, while the trials are still taking place", Ramos Horta told Lusa in Dili on returning from an official visit to Malaysia.
Ramos Horta`s comments came after the first verdicts were given this week at the special human rights court in Jakarata, set up following international pressure to try 18 senior officials and army officers accused of unleashing the violence that killed over 1000 and left East Timor in ruins after the pro-independence referendum in 1999.
A group of Indonesian commanders were acquitted Thursday on various charges of allowing massacres of civilians. The Jakarta court`s decision was widely condemned by the international community, including the UN.
There have also been widespread calls for the setting up of an international court to ensure a more rigorous prosecution of those responsible for the bloodshed of 1999.
Ramos Horta, however, said he preferred not to make any comment on an international tribunal until there had been contacts between the Timorese Council of Minister, the Presidency and Parliament.
"Indonesia has the chance to prove that it does not need an international court to carry out trials and that Indonesian justice can operate with credibility, transparency and integrity", said Ramos Horta.
Nevertheless, Dili`s foreign minister said that until now, the Jakarta trials had only damaged Indonesia`s credibility.
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By Achmad Sukarsono
JAKARTA, Aug 16 (Reuters) - East Timor's president, who has asked Indonesia's human rights court not to single out scapegoats for killings during the territory's 1999 independence vote, is neither upset nor angry with the court verdicts so far.
However, Xanana Gusmao's spokesman and chief of staff Agio Pereira told Reuters on Friday that Indonesia needed to show it could deliver justice.
The court this week acquitted six Indonesians on charges of crimes against humanity over violence in East Timor, denting hopes the government was serious about accounting for the bloodshed.
"This court is seen as Indonesia's way of solving things without going to an international court so it really needs to prove it can do its job," Pereira said by telephone from East Timor's capital Dili.
In a letter read out in court last month, Gusmao said East Timorese and Indonesians must live up to the same moral standards when analysing sensitive matters such as human rights violations.
When asked whether Gusmao was upset or angry with the rulings so far, Pereira answered: "No."
But it was not immediately evident the decision would have any major impact on U.S. moves toward rebuilding military ties largely severed after the mayhem that surrounded East Timor's vote to end 24 years of Jakarta rule.
Some East Timorese said they believed ex-governor Abilio Soares, a native of East Timor, was being made a scapegoat while Indonesia was letting others go free.
Soares was sentenced to three years in jail while an ex-police chief, four mid-ranking police officers and another policemen -- all native Indonesians -- were acquitted. All seven were charged with crimes against humanity.
"It's not fair to put all human rights violations on Abilio's shoulders. Abilio has just become the scapegoat," Dili newspaper Suara Timor Lorosae quoted Father Jovito do Rego Araujo, deputy of East Timor's truth and reconciliation commission, as saying.
The verdict against Soares has also been seen as lip-service to appease nations that nudged Jakarta to act over the violence the United Nations said killed more than 1,000, and which was largely blamed on pro-Jakarta militia backed by elements of Indonesia's military.
"The bottom line is they're sacrificing the civilians in order...so that there's no loophole and possibility of an international tribunal," Johnson Panjaitan, deputy of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, told Reuters.
U.S. STUDYING VERDICTS
Among the things at stake for Indonesia over the trials are improved military ties with the United States, largely severed in the wake of the violence.
But comments from U.S. officials on the latest developments have thus far been relatively restrained.
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said: "Without commenting on specifics of that case, we generally applaud the Indonesian government for holding accountable the government officials and the military officials for activities in East Timor," she told reporters.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said: "We certainly urge the Indonesian government to redouble its efforts to mount credible prosecutions to bring perpetrators of atrocities in East Timor to justice."
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