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Latest verdicts in East Timor human rights trials


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

2 December 2002

NZ disappointed with latest verdicts in East Timor human rights trials

New Zealand is disappointed with the latest verdicts in the East Timor human rights trials Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

New Zealand has been watching with close interest recent developments in the cases in the Central Jakarta District Court of those accused of crimes against humanity committed in East Timor during the violence that preceded and followed the 1999 independence ballot.

Last week the Court delivered verdicts in three separate cases, finding notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres guilty of crimes against humanity, and four Indonesian officials not guilty.

“I welcome the guilty verdict in the Guterres case and the imposition of the 10-year sentence in accordance with Indonesia’s own human rights law. Crimes against humanity is a serious charge, and 10 years is, in my view, the bare minimum that one could expect for perpetrating such a crime.

“However, I am disappointed at the latest verdicts delivered by the Court on 29 November, which saw two army colonels, a police chief and a government official being acquitted of crimes against humanity.

“Of the 12 accused who have to date been handed a verdict by the human rights court over the East Timor violence, only two have been found guilty, the former provincial governor Abilio Soares, and former militia leader Eurico Guterres. Both are East Timorese civilians.

“This would appear to run counter to the reality on the ground which pointed to the fact that militia responsible for carrying out the violence in 1999 had linkages with Indonesian military personnel.

“For the international community to have confidence in the outcomes of these trials, it is vital that they are conducted in accordance with international standards of justice and that the court has before it all of the evidence,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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