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The only Indonesian official to be punished for violence that killed up to 2,000 East Timorese in 1999 has been released from jail after a court overturned his conviction, officials said.

Abilio Jose Soares, East Timor's former governor, left Jakarta's Cipinang prison late Friday, saying, "The Supreme Court decision has put the law on its right track."

The ruling has dismayed rights activists who urged Jakarta to punish those responsible.

Soares had been charged in the violence that erupted after a U.N-sponsored referendum in which East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. Indonesian troops and their militia proxies went on a rampage after their side lost the plebiscite.

Soares was found guilty in 2002 of failing to prevent the bloodshed and began serving a three-year sentence last July. He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which determined that he had no security role in East Timor.

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