Senior officials from the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) have met with former militia members in the latest in a series of encounters to pave the way for refugee returns to Ainaro District.
UNTAET's Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran and Prosecutor General Mohamed Othman on Wednesday met with over 90 former members of the Mahidi militia in the West Timor capital of Kupang to explain how their returns to the territory would be handled from a judicial point of view.
Mahidi leader Câncio Lopes de Carvalho has frequently explained that he wished to live in East Timor and that he accepted the result of the Popular Consultation of August 1999. He has also said that he accepted that East Timor will be independent and that he was willing to face justice and help in the reconstruction of the country. The Ainaro community has responded that it was ready to accept the militias' return as long as they upheld their commitments.
UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello has several times laid out the mission's position that all refugees were welcome to return, but that there would be no amnesty for crimes committed in 1999 and that suspects would face the East Timorese justice system, namely the Special Panel for Serious Crimes.
Several smaller meetings have been scheduled for the upcoming days with particular militia leaders to deal with specific problems that they might have in respect to their return.
Mr. Lopes de Carvalho has said that he intends to return to East Timor with his followers next month. His brother Nemésio is planning to come back on 17 October.
A reconciliation meeting between Ainaro refugees in West Timor and the Ainaro community will be held at the border crossing of Salele in Covalima District on 8 October.