East Timor defends decision not to try war crimes
The Associated Press , United Nations | Tue, 09/29/2009 7:09 AM | World
East Timor's government is defending its policy of not pursuing war crimes trials for Indonesian officials responsible for thousands of deaths during their 24-year occupation of the half-island nation.
Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa says the country needs to balance justice with the need to reconcile with its giant neighbor, which has refused to cooperate with war crimes probes.
Da Costa acknowledged that his government has faced sharp criticism over the issue by human rights groups calling for an international war crimes tribunal to try those responsible.
The former Portuguese colony broke free of Indonesian occupation in 1999, when 1,500 people were killed by departing occupation troops. After three years of U.N. governance, East Timor declared independence in 2002.