East Timor's Alkatiri Fails to Appear for Questioning

East Timor's former prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, has failed to appear before prosecutors for questioning about allegations that he helped arm militia groups to assassinate his opponents.

Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro said Friday he received a letter from Mr. Alkatiri claiming immunity from prosecution because of his status as a member of parliament.

Mr. Alkatiri stepped down from his post Monday. He has been accused of mishandling a military mutiny that spread into deadly civil unrest and displaced tens of thousands of people. He has denied allegations that he supplied weapons to civilian militias.

The U.N. special representative for East Timor Sukehiro Hasegawa told VOA the United Nations is expanding its peacekeeping force in the country, at least until new elections are held early next year.

The United Nations also said it is sending a panel of three human rights experts to East Timor in early July to determine who is responsible for human rights violations that took place during the violence earlier this year.

The panel will be led by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a U.N. human rights expert who most recently worked in Burma.