INDEPENDENT NEWS

Scoop Images: NZ Weapon Returned In East Timor

Published: Thu 9 Nov 2000 09:07 AM
The return, in East Timor, yesterday afternoon NZ time, by the Indonesian Army (TNI) of the weapon taken by militia following the death of Private Leonard Manning earlier this year.
New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa
Media Release
November 8, 2000
NEW ZEALAND BATTALION WEAPON RETURNED IN EAST TIMOR
The C9 Light Support Weapon (a 5.56mm light machine gun), removed from the body of Kiwi peacekeeper Private Leonard Manning after his death in July this year, was returned to the New Zealand battalion in East Timor today.
The weapon had been seized by the Indonesian Army (TNI) following the detention of three suspected militia in Laktutus near the West Timor border on October 27. The United Nations Peace Keeping Force and the TNI have concluded their collective investigation into the origin of the weapon, which has resulted in the return of the weapon to the New Zealanders.
At a ceremony at a Forward Operating Base in Suai at about 4.45PM New Zealand time, Brigadier Ken Gillespie, military commander of the Sector West Region in East Timor, handed the weapon to the Commanding Officer of the New Zealand Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield. The weapon was then blessed by the New Zealand Battalion's Padre. The weapon had been handed over earlier in the day by the TNI to Brigadier Gillespie at his Headquarters in Suai.
"I welcome the return of the weapon. It is now out of the hands of those who could use it for criminal purposes and I can only hope that this development brings us closer to the capture and bringing to justice of those responsible for the killing of Private Manning," says Brigadier Lou Gardiner, New Zealand's Senior National Officer in East Timor.
The second New Zealand Battalion Group, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield, will return to New Zealand within the next fortnight, to be replaced by the third New Zealand Battalion to serve in East Timor.
"The return of the weapon is timely and in a sense provides a feeling of closure for the second Battalion prior to returning to New Zealand" said Brigadier Gardiner.
ENDS
For further information please contact Wing Commander John Seward, HQ NZDF Press Officer, Ph: (04) 4960299

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