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Officers Probe U.N. Soldier Slaying

July 9, 2001

DILI, East Timor (AP) _ An eight-member team of Indonesian police officers and prosecutors arrived in East Timor on Monday to investigate the killing of a New Zealand U.N. peacekeeper last year.

Pvt. Leonard William Manning was killed inside East Timor on July 24, his body mutilated and his weapon stolen. His suspected killer, an East Timorese anti-independence militiaman, surrendered to Indonesian authorities early this year.

The United Nations has demanded Jakarta extradite the suspect to face trial in East Timor. Indonesia has said it will not allow him to be tried abroad.

Although the militiaman has confessed to the killing, Indonesian authorities said recently that the trial was in doubt due to a dispute over evidence.

Also Monday, a separate trial of 10 militiamen accused of murdering 13 people before and after a U.N.-sponsored independence referendum in August 1999 opened in Dili, said U.N. press affairs officer Philip Wood.

The men are charged with crimes against humanity. The victims included six church officials and an Indonesian journalist working for a Japanese television station.

In another development in Indonesian-controlled West Timor, a U.N. security team toured refugee camps on Monday to assess whether it was safe for the world body’s staff to return to the region where militiamen murdered three aid workers last year.

Richard Manlove, who is heading the mission, said it was too early to say whether security conditions in the camps had improved enough for humanitarian officials to resume working in them.

The United Nations and aid agencies evacuated all staff from the province after the killings, saying that the region is too unsafe for their return.

The estimated 50,000 East Timorese refugees living in camps in the province have been without international aid since the U.N. workers left.

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