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Aust. Defence Force Timor role still unanswered

ADF Timor role still unanswered

Big questions still remain over the role of the Australian Defence
Forces in East Timor prior to this month's unrest, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today after questioning Defence officials about the extent of Australia's influence on the East Timorese military.

Defence's Deputy Secretary Strategy, Michael Pezzullo, said in evidence to the committee that 28 ADF personnel were in the battalions and Timor military headquarters at the time of recent troubles in East Timor.

Mr Pezzullo indicated that they were aware of the problems that were developing in the East Timorese military and that they have had almost daily contact with Timorese officers including those of the level of rebel leader Major Reinado.

He also indicted that Australian advisers may have been consulted on the sackings of large numbers of the Timor military.

"I want to know if Defence had any role in the sacking of troops that precipitated the current crisis", Senator Nettle said today.

"I want to know what communication and cooperation Defence has had with the rebel leader Major Reinado. Defence indicated that he was in

Australia at the end of last year for training and have agreed to provide more information about ongoing communication with him since then."

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