02/09/09 (AFP) – 6 hours ago DILI — The United Nations condemned Tuesday the reported release of an Indonesian former militia leader accused of taking part in a massacre of civilians in East Timor in 1999.
"If the reports are true, his release is contrary to the Security Council resolutions which set up the UN Mission in (East Timor) and seriously undermines the global principle of accountability for crimes against humanity," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokeswoman Marie Okabe said in a statement.
The UN said earlier this week that the suspect, Martenus Bere, had been released Sunday ahead of national celebrations commemorating 10 years since East Timor won independence from Indonesia in a UN-backed referendum.
The government has refused to confirm Bere's release amd the UN appeared to backtrack on Tuesday, saying in a separate statement that its mission in Dili was "not in a position to comment" on Bere's circumstances.
Bere was detained in East Timor on August 8, five years after being indicted for his role in the 1999 Suai Church massacre, in which up to 200 people were killed.
"The UN's firm position is that there can be no amnesty or impunity for serious crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide," Okabe said.
"In that context, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights strongly opposes the release of someone for whom an arrest warrant of this nature has been established."
East Timor's leadership has been criticised for opposing prosecution for those responsible for abuses during Indonesia's bloody 1975-1999 occupation of the half-island, which killed around 100,000 people.
President Jose Ramos-Horta says restoring good relations with Indonesia is more important than "prosecutorial justice", and has said he will not let his country be used as an "experiment" in international justice.
The opposition Fretilin party however says he is out of touch with the East Timorese people, many of whom continue to demand justice for gross human rights abuses committed during the Indonesian occupation.