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Indonesian Team To Probe Journalist's Murder

Indonesian Team To Leave For East Timor To Probe Journalist's Murder

JAKARTA, Feb 25 (AFP) - A team of Indonesian state prosecutors will leave for East Timor on Tuesday to investigate the murder of a Dutch journalist in

September 1999, an official said Monday.

Barman Zahir, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the four-member team would be led by the head of the West Timor attorney general's office, Abdul Muis Gassing.

Zahir has said the team would develop the findings of an earlier team that investigated the murder of Sander Thoenes. The Dutchman was working as the Jakarta correspondent for the Financial Times when he was killed in the territory's capital Dili on September 22, 1999.

Thoenes had arrived in Dili hours earlier to cover the arrival of the UN-sanctioned Australian peacekeeping forces. They were sent in following an orgy of killing and destruction by military-backed pro-Indonesian militiamen.

The violence was sparked off by East Timor's vote for independence in a UN-sponsored ballot on August 30, 1999.

The team would also check the findings of a Dutch investigator who said there was evidence that members of an Indonesian army battalion could have been implicated in the case, Zahir said.

Thoenes auffered multiple wounds and had an ear slashed off.

Indonesian prosecutors in West Timor last month began questioning two army officers suspected of knowing about the killing.

The two officers, Lieutenant Colonel Pieter Lobo and Lieutenant Colonel Wilmard Aritonang, now hold postings in West Timor. They were stationed in Dili when Thoenes was murdered.

The West Timor prosecutors have also been questioning two other men believed to know about the murder.



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