Speaking at the ANU about the challenges facing the newly emergent country of East Timor, Dr Ramos Horta described as "grotesque" and "farcical" the trial and subsequent release of militia leader Eurico Guterres, and leniency given to others shown to have committed atrocities in East and West Timor.
"If you steal a bicycle in Holland you spend a few months in prison. In Indonesia you kill three humanitarian workers in cold blood, you boast about it on television, and you get 10 to 20 months," he said.
"When a country, a government, a society, shrugs in the face of such destruction, at the horrendous crimes committed under its flag, its name, I can only say I pity, and I am afraid for that country."
While the continued absence of true justice for the crimes committed against East Timor was disturbing, Dr Ramos Horta was pragmatic about the need for his country and Indonesia to find a way around their differences in the future.
He also took a pragmatic approach to negotiations between East Timor and Australia over gas and oil reserves in the Timor Gap, saying he was hopeful a framework of agreement could be signed by mid-July.
He stressed the importance of the negotiations, some of which will take place in Canberra during next week's meeting of East Timor donors, in terms of image and revenue to each country.
"We [Australia and East Timor] have to show leadership, pragmatism and a sense of responsibility. The Timor Gap [treaty] has to be signed.
"If we do not sign, the two sides should be blamed, and I don't want the East Timorese side to be blamed.
"We cannot begin our new nation, our new country by scaring off investors, particularly those who have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars."
Dr Ramos Horta said he hoped that in five years he could return to Australia and say East Timor was on its way to development free of corruption and sticking by the high ideals it set itself when it won its independence.
Mr Jose Ramos-Horta is an internationally-renowned spokesperson for the East Timorese cause. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for “sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of small people”.
Mr Ramos-Horta has been a dynamic and determined advocate for a free and independent East Timor. From 1976 until 1989, he was the permanent representative of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente (FRETILIN) at the United Nations. He currently holds the position of Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs, United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.
BD: Calls for International War Crimes Tribunal - A collection of recent reports, articles and news
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