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Indonesia Rejects UN Extradition Request

Indonesia says it will not comply with a request by U.N. officials to extradite suspects to East Timor to stand trial for alleged human rights abuses.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry says that Indonesians accused of committing human rights abuses in East Timor should be tried under Indonesian law. Wahid Supriadi also says there is no law allowing for Indonesian suspects to be extradited to East Timor.

Mr. Supriadi's comments come a day after U.N. prosecutors in East Timor indicted 17 people for alleged crimes against humanity. The violence took place before and after East Timor's 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. Hundreds-of-thousands of others fled or were forced to leave the territory.

Indonesia and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor (UNTAET) are conducting parallel investigations into alleged human rights abuses. Each has agreed in principle to help the other's investigation. But the Indonesian parliament has yet to ratify the agreement.

U.N. spokesman Chris Fontaine says UNTAET expects Indonesia to follow through on that agreement. "It is correct that there is no extradition treaty. There is an agreement on judicial cooperation between UNTAET and the Republic of Indonesia. And that does include things such as mutual assistance in the execution of arrests and the transfer of certain persons," Mr. Fontaine said.

Indonesia has formed a special ad-hoc tribunal to handle human rights abuses, including the East Timor cases. After months of delay, those trials are expected to start in the coming weeks.

Among those the United Nations indicted Monday is militia leader Eurico Guterres, who is accused of five counts of crimes against humanity. He is one suspect that U.N. officials would like to see Indonesia treat as a priority case.

"We would like to say that we would be delighted if Indonesia's ad-hoc tribunal could try Eurico Guterres and similar cases. We would also be willing to share all the evidence that our investigators have gathered in this case, but at the same time, our investigators are ready for trial," said the U.N. spokesman, Mr. Fontaine.

Mr. Guterres is now the leader of the youth wing of the People's Democratic Party of Struggle, the political party of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.