Subject: RT: Timor truth commission set to examine bloodshed

Timor truth commission set to examine bloodshed

16 Dec 2005

JAKARTA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A joint truth commission on violence surrounding East Timor's independence vote from Indonesia will try to summon people who may have been involved in the bloodshed next month, the commission said on Friday.

The Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission said it wanted to speak with all possible people linked to the violence, including former top Indonesian military brass such as retired General Wiranto, then chief of Jakarta's armed forces.

The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese were killed by militias backed by elements in the Indonesian military when the tiny territory voted in August 1999 to split from Indonesian rule after 24 years of often brutal occupation.

"The second phase starts in January until June. It is a fact-finding period," the commission's deputy chief Benjamin Mangkoedilaga of Indonesia told a news conference.

"We will invite those suspected perpetrators to speak with us directly or if the person holds a very important position, we will come to them to speak," Mangkoedilaga said, adding written testimonials could be submitted instead.

The commission, which has no power to punish, was sworn in last August and comprises 10 members ranging from a former Indonesian judge to East Timorese human rights activists.

One of the commission's goals is to bring closure to a dark chapter in relations, officials have said. Critics have said the establishment of the commission was an attempt to evade pressure to punish those guilty of abuses.

Another commission member conceded that the team had no legal authority to summon anyone.

"We will do it persuasively," commission member Ali Achmad, also of Indonesia, told the same news conference.

Mangkoedilaga said the commission would review all documents from a special Indonesian human rights court that heard trials into the East Timor violence and would not ignore any names.

"Clearly Wiranto's position will be examined, so please be patient," Mangkoedilaga added.

Wiranto has long denied any wrongdoing over the East Timor violence and has never been charged in Indonesia.

Last June, a U.N. panel appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Indonesian officers and militiamen should be tried by an international tribunal if Jakarta did not agree to prosecute them under foreign supervision within six months.

The Indonesian human rights court, which was set up under international pressure, convicted six of 18 Indonesian security officers and others charged in relation to the violence. Five convictions were later overturned and an appeal of the sixth is pending.

An East Timorese commission member, human rights activist Felicidada Guterres, said most East Timorese were disappointed at the verdicts delivered by that court.

Mainly Catholic East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after two-and-a-half years of U.N. administration.

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