Subject: SMH: Indon Officer Admits: I buried massacre victims

Sydney Morning Herald January 19, 2000

Officer admits: I buried massacre victims

Jakarta: An Indonesian army lieutenant has admitted he helped to bury the bodies of East Timorese killed in a massacre in the border town of Suai last September, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday.

Army First Lieutenant Sugito, who was commander of the military in Suai during the mayhem in September, was questioned by the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor, about his activities on September 6 when 27 people, including three Catholic priests, were killed.

Lieutenant Sugito acknowledged he helped bury the victims in Belu inside the Indonesian border, but stressed he did because the East Timorese asked him to, the newspaper said.

Human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, a member of the commission, said he found Lieutenant Sugito's answers unsatisfactory and inconsistent with his earlier statements and the testimony of other witnesses.

Lieutenant Sugito told the commission: "I was evacuating the families of military members and refugees when the shooting inside the church took place. When I arrived ... there were only the bodies."

"The East Timorese then asked me to bury them away from Suai which was in a critical situation at that time."

Commission member Nursyahbani Katjasungkana said Lieutenant Sugito admitted that the killers were members of Laksaur militias, and they were at the scene when the military arrived, the Jakarta Post reported.

The commission plans to visit East Timor for a "final check" this week.

Its final report to the Government, due on January 31, will determine whether there is a case to try Indonesian generals in connection with the unrest.

A separate United Nations inquiry has already presented its report, and the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, is expected to issue a ruling soon.

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