Subject: JP: PPI chief to consult Dili over repatriation

The Jakarta Post July 6, 2002

PPI chief to consult Dili over repatriation

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Militiamen of the Prointegration Forces (PPI) in Indonesia may be heading home soon, as their former chief will meet the East Timor government to discuss repatriation and the legal charges some may face for involvement in the 1999 violence.

Former PPI militiaman Ansesco Sessas said on Friday the meeting between former PPI chief Joao da Silva Tavares and the East Timor government would start tomorrow in the border town of Batugade, East Timor.

"We will discuss the legal procedures for former militiamen to come home to East Timor," Ansesco was quoted as saying by Antara at the West Timor border town of Atambua.

"This meeting increases chances for a repatriation of all the families of the former militiamen," he said.

He said the former militiamen had been living in frustration and fear since they fled East Timor following its independence from Indonesia in a United Nations-backed ballot in 1999.

"They're too afraid to come home even if they've committed no crime," Ansesco said.

He added that the militia delegation would meet with East Timor Chief Justice Longuinhos Monteiro in Batugade.

Monteiro, he said, would explain to them the legal procedures for militiamen who might had been involved in crimes or human rights violations.

According to Ansesco, the East Timor Constitution does not recognize the death penalty. "It is important that the former militiamen know East Timor's legal system if they decide to come home."

Another former militiaman Afonso de Deus Rodriques said former militiamen were hoping the militia delegation would soon explain to others the results of the planned meeting with the East Timor government.

The deadline for repatriation is August 31, after which the East Timor government will no longer handle the matter.

Tavares has said he and his followers had initially wanted to stay in Indonesia. They changed their minds after the Indonesian government stopped paying attention to PPI members.

Since January, the government and the UN ceased providing humanitarian aid to the thousands of East Timorese refugees in Atambua.

The government claimed it no longer had any money to support the refugees, which it had been doing since late 1999.

It said it expected refugees to return to the now safe East Timor and overcome the fear of being treated as second class citizens in their homeland or join the government's resettlement program.

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