Subject: Lusa: Public meets start on unfinished task of justice for 1999 atrocities

East Timor: Public meets start on unfinished task of justice for 1999 atrocities

Dili, March 15 (Lusa) - With the end of its mandate fast approaching, the joint UN-Timorese body created to investigate and try Indonesian atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999 began a series of cross-country public meetings Tuesday to present results.

In unveiling the initiative Monday in Dili, Assistant Attorney General Carl de Faria underlined that only about half of the 1,400 killings had been investigated.

He appealed to the public to participate in the meetings, planned to gather victim's relatives and representatives of the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), in a "civic and democratic manner".

At a news conference, de Faria also called for "patience" from the public, saying that the work of international tribunals was "slow, but generally continue to the finish".

The SCU meetings with the public are scheduled to run through May 9 in all 13 of the country's districts.

The SCU's mandate ends on May 20, leaving the future of investigations and trials into Indonesia's scorched earth campaign around the time East Timor's 1999 independence plebiscite uncertain.

The United Nations has said it would set up a Commission of Experts to evaluate the progress of the SCU in Timor and Jakarta's parallel trials for crimes against humanity before taking a final decision on how to pursue the issue of justice for victims of the rampages.

On the bilateral front, the presidents of East Timor and Indonesia formally agreed on March 9 to establish a Truth and Friendship Commission to deal with the atrocities committed five years ago by pro-Jakarta militias, backed by Indonesian security forces.

The UN has yet to give its blessing to the joint Dili-Jakarta initiative.

The Jakarta trials of 18 senior officers and officials have been largely viewed internationally as a whitewash, and Indonesia has consistently refused to collaborate with the work of the SCU in Dili.



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