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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
UN 'concerned' at Timor trial
Mass grave found in Suai, November 1999
Pro-Jakarta militias killed about 1,000 Timorese
The United Nations has expressed reservations about the conviction of East Timor's former governor, Abilio Soares, for human rights violations.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said prosecutors had failed to present the violence in East Timor in 1999 as part of a systematic campaign.

Timbul Silaen in court
The former police chief is accused of failing to stop the massacres
On Wednesday a court in Jakarta found Soares guilty of "gross rights violations" committed under his rule, and sentenced him to three years in jail.

Another defendant - former East Timor police chief General Timbul Silaen - was acquitted of charges of human rights abuses in the first of several more verdicts expected on Thursday.

Like Soares, he was accused of failing to control his subordinates and take measures to halt violence in various towns of East Timor in 1999.

He was found not guilty of charges of allowing five massacres of civilians in the province.

The Soares trial was the first of its kind relating to the bloodshed that gripped the territory after it voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

The judge found Soares guilty of failing to prevent violence involving his subordinates - but his sentence fell far short of the 10 years and six months demanded by prosecutors.

'Scapegoat'

Judge Emmy Marni Mustafa said Soares had been given a lighter sentence because of a call for leniency from East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao, who wrote to the court in July saying Soares should not be singled out.

Soares says he was being made a scapegoat, and has announced he will appeal.

Mary Robinson
Robinson says prosecutors have got it wrong
In her response issued in Geneva, Mrs Robinson said prosecutors had "not put before the court evidence that portrays the killings and other human rights violations as part of a widespread or systematic pattern of violence."

Mrs Robinson also said a UN court in East Timor had established that Indonesian soldiers had "planned, carried out and directed" pro-Indonesian militias to launch attacks against civilians.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan in New York said he fully endorsed the statement.

Apart from General Timbul Silaen, verdicts are also expected on five members of the security forces on Thursday.

Human rights groups have criticised the trials, saying senior military figures thought to have orchestrated the pro-Jakarta militias are not in the dock.


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14 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
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