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Dili worried indictments damaging key relations with Jakarta

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  • kesta_2002 <kesta_2002@yahoo.com>
    Foto epa/LUSA Dili, Feb. 28 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmao, worried by the impact of Dili s indictments of senior Indonesian officials for crimes against
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2003
      Foto epa/LUSA

      Dili, Feb. 28 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmao, worried by the impact
      of Dili's indictments of senior Indonesian officials for crimes
      against humanity, held an urgent meeting Friday with other East
      Timorese leaders in search of ways to safeguard critical relations
      with Jakarta.

      "We+ve decided to work to see if we can find a solution for all this
      situation that is affecting or could affect our relations with
      Indonesia", Gusmao said after the talks.

      The 90-minute meeting gathered Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres,
      Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta
      with Gusmao, just returned from the Non-aligned Movement summit in

      "For us, relations with Indonesia are of extreme importance, not only
      for current stability but also for the future of the country", Gusmao

      He stressed that any initiative by Dili over the indictments issued
      Tuesday by the attorney general's office would "respect the
      constitution", while seeking to protect broader "national interests".

      Tuesday's indictments, which were followed by another round of
      indictments Friday, targeted General Wiranto, Jakarta's defense
      minister and armed forces chief in 1999 when pro-Indonesian militias
      rampaged during East Timor's independence plebiscite.

      Indicted along with Gen. Wiranto were former Governor Abílio Osório
      Soares and six other senior Indonesian army officers.

      Some observers told Lusa that Gusmao's stance served as a "message"
      to the United Nations that it should not try to shunt responsibility
      for trying the 1999 atrocities onto Dili's shoulders.

      Prio to the Dili leadership meeting, Gusmao issued a statement
      saying: "I cannot accept or agree with the methods used in this
      (indictment) process".

      Nevertheless, the president said he accepted the decision of the
      attorney general's office, which is staffed in part by UN- appointed
      prosecutors, even though it had been taken in the absence of the
      attorney general and while the head of state was abroad.

      Gusmao, just returned from the Kuala Lumpur summit, said he had
      learned about the indictments from media reports.

      "I have repeatedly stated that I don't consider the international
      court, and even less so one in Timor, a priority when we are faced
      with such problems in this period of construction", said Gusmao.

      The Timorese leader highlighted the process of the national
      reconciliation in his country and said this must involve "the last 29
      years and not just 1999".

      "Pain felt by direct and indirect victims of the successive acts of
      violence committed goes back to 1974 and not 1999".

      Gusmao's communique also referred to Jakarta's efforts in the past
      three years to build "relations of respect and friendship with East

      It is essential to foster a good relationship with Jakarta and
      ensure "intensification of dialog in all areas, including ones as
      sensitive as this", he said.

      Several senior Jakarta officials have slammed the Dili court's
      indictments and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda rejected the
      charges, saying the Timorese court had no juristiction in Indonesia.

      The speaker of the Jakarta People's Consultative Assembly, Amien
      Rais, called the charges "offensive and degrading" for Indonesia.

      ASP/CJB/SAS Lusa
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