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Jailed rebel leader Xanana admits he authorized bombs assembling, says lawyer

Lusa - November 20, 1997

Jakarta – Jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao admitted that he had authorized the assembling of bombs as head of the self-determination resistance movement, a lawyer who attended the police interrogation said on Wednesday.

The police visited Xanana on Tuesday at the prison of Cipinang to question him on his alleged links with a group of Timorese who have been accused of being terrorists by Jakarta.

The Indonesian authorities announced recently that they had uncovered the activities of the group during an accidental explosion in Demak, Java, in a house where the bombs were being assembled.

According to the official transcript of the interrogation being held by the Association for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Xanana said he had given permission for the assembling of the bombs as head of the resistance movement.

However, he rejected the accusations of terrorism and stressed the bombs would be used only in the "fight against the Indonesian army", denying that they aimed at civil targets in Indonesia.

This revelation comes days before the Indonesian President Suharto visits South Africa where his counterpart Nelson Mandela is expected to call for the release of Xanana.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it one year later but the United Nations still regards Portugal as the territory's administering power.