East Timor Crisis: New Zealand still training Indonesian army officers

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The Independent Online
INDONESIAN ARMY officers are still being trained in New Zealand more than a week after the government said it was suspending military co-operation with Jakarta. Four officers have continued theirstudies, at the expense of the New Zealand taxpayer, while two have been sent home.

Jenny Shipley, the Prime Minister, and Max Bradford, the Defence Minister, declared on the eve of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) leaders' conference that New Zealand would cut its defence ties with Jakarta. The decision came after evidence of links between the rampaging militias in East Timor and the Indonesian armed forces. Mr Bradford said he would suspend and review activities under the military assistance programme.

Since the announcement on 10 September, two Indonesian naval officers attending military skills programmes have been sent home. But four men continue to study at Massey University. They are believed to be living at Linton Army Camp, from where the first contingent of New Zealand soldiers bound for East Timor left yesterday.

"The government never said those four were leaving," said a spokesman for Mr Bradford. "They are locked up in the library at Massey University and the government is still reviewing their repatriation date." He said the men were studying philosophy and "not studying how to kill people". The university has a defence and strategic studies department, but an official said reasons of privacy prevented it from revealing the officers' courses.