/** reg.easttimor: 3300.0 **/

** Topic: Grisly evidence of militia rampage draws calls for rights tribunal **
** Written 8:26 AM Sep 23, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Grisly evidence of militia rampage draws calls for rights tribunal

Grisly evidence of militia rampage draws calls for rights tribunal

DILI, East Timor, Sept 26 (AFP) - More grisly evidence of atrocities committed by pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor surfaced Thursday as calls for an investigation into human rights violations intensified.

Eight bodies were dragged from a well behind a house in the capital Dili which local residents feared had become a torture chamber for victims of the brutal anti-independence militias.

The armed gangs -- backed by sections of the Indonesian military -- killed, burned, raped and looted their way across the territory this month after East Timorese voted to break away from Indonesia.

The Australian commander of a multinational force working to bring peace to East Timor called Thursday for the United Nations to despatch trained investigators to investigate the killings.

"We will need investigative resources well beyond those normally found in a military force," Major-General Peter Cosgrove said in a television interview.

"There is some evidence that there's been some awful acts."

UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has called for a war crimes tribunal to be set up to look at crimes against humanity in the territory invaded by Indonesia in 1975.

What appeared to be the first mass grave found in East Timor was uncovered Thursday at the former home of independence campaigner Manuel Carrascalao, which was stormed in April by an armed gang.

They killed 12 people who had sought shelter there, including Carrascalao's son.

The house, one door away from the Tropical Hotel which the savage Aitarak (Thorn) militia took over as their headquarters, was also used by the militiamen, residents said.

What they left behind -- meat hooks hung on walls, pools of dried blood lying in two outhouses and bloodied clothes -- suggested they put the house to awful use in the weeks until the peacekeepers arrived.

The naked body of a headless woman was the first found floating in the well and residents said they feared there may be many more corpses.

"There are more than 20. Before the water used to be low, about 10 metres (30 feet) lower. Now it is almost at the top," said neighbour Marian Soares.

The Dili-based Aitarak has been blamed for much of the killing and violence that has shaken East Timor since the results of the UN-sponsored ballot were announced on September 4.

The Tropical Hotel is now occupied by Australian troops, but they said the area remained dangerous and that militiamen wielding AK-47 rifles had been seen nearby.

A local man, Domingos Xavier, said militiamen took captured pro-independence supporters to the house to torture them before they were killed.

Pointing to the meat hooks, he said: "These were used to hang people with cloth tied around their necks."

Another woman claimed that sacks containing body parts from the house were thrown in a nearby sewerage drain.

Australian Defence Force spokesman Colonel Duncan Lewis told reporters that Australian-led peacekeepers who entered the territory on Monday had been overwhelmed with reports of bodies left in the wake of the militia rampage.

"There is quite a rush of reports to this end coming in and they are being checked in a methodical way, but of course it is taking some time to get through the welter of reports," he said.

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Commission will open a special session Thursday to discuss the violence that erupted this month.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee to the hills or across the border to neighbouring West Timor.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer Thursday promised Australia's support for any international investigation into human rights abuses in East Timor.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook also said Britain supported the creation of a body to bring to justice those who planned and perpetrated violence in East Timor.

But UN diplomats said many countries, especially in Asia, had misgivings about creating such a court, fearing it could destabilise Indonesia's rocky transition to democracy.

The Indonesian government is seeking time to investigate the violence itself, throwing its support behind a fact-finding team set up Wednesday by the independent National Commission on Human Rights.

** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **