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TIMOR: Military denies role in journalist's death

JAKARTA (JP): Spokesman of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Rear Air Marshall Graito Usodo vouched on Thursday for Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, the former chief of the restoration command in East Timor, over his testimony on the death of journalist Sander Thoenes who was killed at the height of violence in East Timor in September.

Kiki recently said Indonesian doctors who conducted an autopsy on Thoenes did not find any bullet holes on the deceased's body.

His statement runs contrary to reports of an autopsy conducted on the body in Australia which states that a bullet hole was found on Thoenes' body.

The shooting of Thoenes is one of five cases focused on by the Indonesian Attorney General's Office in its investigation of violence in East Timor.

"I know Gen. Kiki as a true patriotic soldier and there was no possibility at all that he would lie over such a statement," Graito said of the Udayana Military Commander.

But separately, James Cotton, a professor from the Australian Defense Force Academy, told the Post here on Thursday that these repeated accusations were merely based on long bitterness harbored by TNI as they were unhappy with the presence of Australian troops in East Timor.

Cotton said many of the complaints were also exaggerated, stressing that

the overall relationship between the two armed forces could be viewed as

"normal". He further noted that espionage was conducted by every country. (dja)

+++niuswire

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