Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 4 News List

UN court postpones Australia, E Timor hearing on spy row

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

The UN’s highest court on Friday postponed a hearing in a bitter spy row between Australia and East Timor after both countries said they were pursuing an “amicable settlement.”

East Timor has dragged Canberra to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to seek the return of sensitive documents seized by Australia in a raid on an East Timor lawyer’s office in the capital.

The documents relate to a controversial oil and gas treaty between the two countries which East Timor wants torn up.

“The ICJ decided to grant the parties’ request to postpone the oral proceedings in the case,” it said in a statement.

In a joint letter dated on Monday last week, both Dili and Canberra asked for a postponement “in order to enable them to seek an amicable settlement,” the court said.

East Timor opened a case against Australia last December following a raid on the Canberra offices of Bernard Collaery, in which electronic and paper documents were seized.

East Timor contended that the seizure violated its sovereignty and rights “under international and any relevant domestic law.”

At the heart of the dispute is the treaty signed in 2006 between Dili and its southern neighbor, four years after East Timor’s independence from Indonesia.

Australia allegedly used an aid program as cover to bug East Timor’s cabinet offices so it could listen in on discussions about the treaty.

East Timor has accused Australia of spying to gain a commercial advantage during 2004 negotiations over the Timor Sea gas treaty — called the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea — which covers a vast gas field between the two nations worth billions of dollars.

East Timor now wants the treaty scrapped.

The two states are currently involved in a separate, behind-closed-doors case on the issue before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is in the same building as the ICJ.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top