SYDNEY (AP)--Nobel peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor appealed Monday for an international tribunal to punish crimes against humanity in his country and help the fledgling nation come to terms with atrocities committed after it voted for independence from Indonesia.
Belo said the United Nations should set up an international court similar to those already meting out justice for atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
"Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be universal," he said in a speech in Sydney.
Belo said the East Timorese did not trust investigations launched in Jakarta into atrocities sparked by the former Indonesian province's vote for independence in August 1999.
Hundreds of people were killed and an estimated 80% of East Timor's infrastructure was destroyed by pro-Indonesian militia gangs and troops following the popular vote that ended 24 years of rule by Jakarta.
U.N. staff are already investigating the atrocities and are expected to indict as many as 400 suspects, including some top Indonesian military officers.
The Indonesian probe was launched under a U.N. directive to prosecute members of its military and civil administration for their roles in the blood bath or face the possible establishment of a U.N. tribunal.
Indonesia's attorney general's office has prepared a list of 23 potential suspects. However, no formal charges have been filed.
"We have no faith in the investigations being conducted in Jakarta. Those who authorized the crimes in East Timor will not face justice there," Belo said.
"It is our belief that only an international court will be able to prosecute the generals and commanders who were behind the September 1999 violence. It is clear that what happened in East Timor was not a spontaneous response by Timorese who wanted to stay with Indonesia."
Last week, a former Australian diplomat, James Dunn, handed a report to U.N. investigators accusing senior Indonesian army generals of masterminding the violence, but U.N. officials distanced themselves from its findings, parts of which were published in Australia.
"It is his own report and reflects his own views," said U.N. chief prosecutor Mohamed Othman.
Belo, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Ramos Horta, said his tiny nation needed justice to help it move forward.
"While we believe in and promote reconciliation, the people of East Timor are crying out for justice against the perpetrators of the horrendous crimes committed during Indonesian occupation. Without justice, the brokenness continues," he said.
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