04 November 2008

East Timor president asks UN to drop violence probe

Reuters 13 October 2008 Soibada, East Timor – East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta said Monday he wants the United Nations to drop its investigation into bloodshed surrounding a 1999 independence vote from Indonesia.

Leaders in East Timor and Indonesia said in July that the issue was closed after expressing regret at the findings of a joint truth commission that blamed Indonesian security and civilian forces for "gross human rights violations."

But the United Nations, which boycotted the truth commission, has said it will continue to back prosecutions through the Serious Crime Unit, which it set up to assist East Timor's prosecutors' office in probing the violence in which the United Nations says about 1,000 East Timorese died.

"As chief of state, I don't authorise or allow the UN investigation into the 1999 crimes. Our position is keeping good ties with Indonesia," Ramos-Horta told Reuters during a visit to Soibada district, about 100 km (60 miles) from the capital, Dili.

Several Indonesian military officials were tried in Indonesian human rights courts following the 1999 violence, but none was convicted.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, won independence after a violence-marred, UN-organised vote in 1999. It became fully independent in 2002.

(Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Sugita Katyal and Paul Tait)

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