East Timor could still press for a United Nations war crimes tribunal unless Indonesia brought to justice those responsible for the political violence in 1999, the independence leader and Nobel laureate Mr Jose Ramos Horta said yesterday.
The UN Security Council's credibility would be at risk if it did not back a war crimes tribunal in the face of Jakarta's failure to prosecute named individuals, he said.
"If Indonesia fails to deliver justice then I don't see how the Security Council can get away from creating a war crimes tribunal for East Timor.
"I am confident a war crimes tribunal remains a strong option.''
Mr Horta is the cabinet member for foreign affairs in the UN-chaired East Timor Transitional Administration.
Two Indonesian diplomats based in Dili attended his briefing and took notes.
The August 30, 1999, vote for independence from Indonesia triggered widespread violence by pro-Indonesian militias in which up to 1,500 people were killed.
Under pressure from the international community, Indonesia promised to bring those responsible to justice, but it has failed to deliver and has rejected requests by a serious crimes unit in Dili to hand over indicted war criminals to UN authorities.
Diplomats doubt any senior Indonesian officials will be handed over, or that militia leaders, such as Eurico Guterres, regarded by most East Timorese as a murderer but by many Indonesians as a nationalist hero, will be brought to justice.
Mr Horta praised the efforts of Indonesia's Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman, to bring to trial those responsible for the violence, and said he hoped Indonesia and East Timor would normalise relations as soon as possible.
Australia's Defence Minister, Mr Reith, arrived in East Timor yesterday for his first visit to the shattered territory. He met Mr Xanana Gusmao and the UN administration chief, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello.
He would not say how long Australian troops would be based in East Timor.
"I think the Australians, from all reports, are doing a very good job. Obviously we are monitoring what is happening here. They're here for the moment, and they'll be here for a little while yet."