Subject: Jakarta rejects UN commission probe into E. Timor violence

Jakarta rejects UN commission probe into East Timor violence

JAKARTA, Nov 18 (AFP) - The Indonesian government on Thursday rejected a UN commission to arrive here soon to probe post-ballot human rights violations in East Timor but pledged to bring justice to anyone found responsible for the violence.

"While it (Indonesia) is not legally bound by the decision adopted by the council, (it) remains committed to extending all cooperation with the UN human rights mechanisms," the Indonesian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UN's economic and social council (ECOSOC) on Monday gave the go-ahead to a five-member commission of inquiry set up by the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which voted to set up the probe in September, to travel to East Timor at the end of week

"The decision by the ECOSOC was not reached by consensus," the ministry statement said, pointing out 10 countries voted against and 11 others had abstained.

"Indonesia nevertheless will continue to undertake every effort to determine the facts surrounding the violence in East Timor.

"And when and where culpability is determined, Indonesia will bring to justice those responsible for acts of violence."

Indonesian military-backed militias launched a campaign of violence and destruction in East Timor after the announcement on September 4 of the result of the UN-held ballot there in which East Timorese voted almost four to one for independence.

Whole towns and cities were razed as the militia went on the unchecked rampage that included killing, rape and looting and forced about half of the territory's some 800,000 people to flee to the hills or to neighbouring West Timor.

Jakarta has already rejected the Commission on Human Rights's decision to set up the probe and said it was not legally bound by the decision.

"Indonesia will hold accountable its nationals and those within its jurisdiction found to have perpetrated human rights abuses during the post ballot period in East Timor," the statement said.

Indonesia, which invaded the Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 and formaly annexed it the following year, opposed an international inquiry, arguing it would conduct its own investigation.

Jakarta has said the investigation will be conducted by a fact-finding team set up by the country's own National Commission on Human Rights.

The task of the UN commission of inquiry is to substantiate claims of atrocities made by refugees to special UN raporteurs.

Refugees and other parties have claimed that the Indonesian army orchestrated the militia scorched earth policy in the territory following the August 30 independence vote.

Led by Costa Rican jurist Sonia Picado, the team is expected to submit its recommendation to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan by December 31 on whether the United Nations should set up an international war crimes tribunal.

They will then report to the UN General Assembly which has the authority to establish an international war crimes tribunal.

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