Timor-Leste, not UN, indicts Indonesian general for war crimes

26 February 2003

Contrary to published reports, Timor-Leste, and not the UN, has indicted former Indonesian military chief General Wiranto for his role in the violence surrounding the 1999 popular consultation on East Timorese independence, UN officials have stressed.

"While indictments are prepared by international staff, they are issued under the legal authority of the Timorese Prosecutor-General," said a statement issued yesterday in Dili by the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). "The United Nations does not have any legal authority to issue indictments."

UNMISET released the statement after several news outlets reported earlier this week that the UN had charged General Wiranto with crimes against humanity. To date, Timor-Leste has filed 50 indictments involving more than 170 suspects - over 100 of who are charged with crimes against humanity.

In New York, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard reminded reporters at a press briefing yesterday that the indictments were issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Timor-Leste, and not by the United Nations, which provides advisory assistance to the East Timorese. "So, we hope that in future you'll say, 'East Timor indicts,' and not 'the United Nations indicts,'" he said.


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