Wed, 22 Mar 2000

East Timor investigators to be named

JAKARTA (JP): A team tasked to investigate last year's violence in East Timor will be established by next week, focusing on five of the most notorious incidents, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said on Tuesday.

Marzuki said the team of investigators, which would consist of elements from the military police, the police, experts and the Attorney General's Office, would be formed "either this week, or next week at the latest".

He told reporters after attending a coordinating meeting for political affairs and security that the team would focus on five cases in particular:

* An attack on April 17 on proindependence leader Manuel Carrascalao's house in Dili, in which at least 12 people, including his son, died.

* The attack on the Dili residence of Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo on Sept. 6

* A massacre of refugees in a church in Liquica in April. The bodies of the victims were dumped in a well and found six months later by international investigators.

* A massacre in a church in Suai in September where at least 26 people, including three Catholic priests, were killed. Their bodies later found in concealed mass graves in neighboring East Nusa Tenggara.

* The shooting of Financial Times correspondent Sander Thoenes in the East Dili area of Becora by men allegedly wearing Indonesian Military (TNI) uniforms on Sept. 21

Marzuki also said the team would consist of between 50 to 70 people, and would involve experts from three leading human rights groups: the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) and the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI).

The investigations into rights abuses in East Timor is a follow up of recommendations made by the government-sanctioned Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor.

KPP HAM alleged that former TNI commander Gen. Wiranto and 32 other soldiers and officials were responsible for the violence before and after the UN-administered ballot on Aug. 30.

Marzuki also said Wiranto and the 32 others would be summoned by the team as "witnesses".

But Wiranto "will not the be the first" witness to testify, he added.

Marzuki also said he was convinced that the military would be fair and open as investigators despite having to examine its own senior officers.

He pointed out that the investigation would be "under direct coordination of the Attorney General's Office".

Marzuki added that every member of the team had agreed to use KPP HAM's recommendations as "material for further process of investigation".

National military police chief Maj. Gen. Djasri Marin told reporters that the TNI would "maintain its neutrality and is committed to upholding the supremacy of the law".

Later in the day, a team of lawyers representing the generals allegedly involved in the East Timor violence said it would welcome Marzuki's plan to invite human rights activists to join the team of investigators as long as they were not "directly involved" in the investigation.

"We basically do not oppose the involvement of non- governmental organizations as long as they work in their capacity as experts," former justice minister Muladi, who is now a coordinator of the defense team, said.(byg)