Subject: ap: E. Timor Victims Exhumed from Graves

Associated Press January 11, 2000

E. Timor Victims Exhumed from Graves


LABUKOE, East Timor (AP) - U.N. investigators exhumed two mass graves in East Timor on Tuesday and found the bodies of eight people who were likely killed months before the province voted to break away from Indonesia.

The investigators had expected to find the remains of 18 East Timorese who were executed by Indonesian-allied militiamen. But only eight bodies were recovered before heavy rain suspended the work, officials said.

Witnesses said they saw at least another 10 bodies in the graves, located at Lauboke village, 40 miles west of Dili. Locals said they buried the bodies after they were dumped by militia in the village.

Anti-independence militia violence both before and after the U.N.-sponsored ballot in August left East Timor devastated. At least 200 bodies have been recovered since international peacekeepers were deployed in September to restore law and order.

One grave is said to contain the bodies of seven independence supporters who were killed on April 5, when militiamen stormed a church in nearby Liquica. The other grave is thought to hold 11 victims of an April 17 attack on the Dili home of prominent independence campaigner Manuel Carrascalao.

Weeping relatives of the dead were at the graves to witness the exhumations.

One man, Florindo de Jesus, identified one of the bodies as that of his brother Alberto, who was killed by militia at the Carrascalao house. Florindo said he was also at the house on the night of the massacre, but escaped.

``I jumped over the fence, but the militiamen were there. They cut me with machetes,'' said de Jesus, who has deep scars on his arms, back and legs.

Sidney Jones, of the U.N. human rights team carrying out the exhumations, said the bodies were badly mutilated and showed signs of torture and execution.

One male victim had his hands tied behind his back, a bullet wound in the chest and multiple skull fractures, apparently from several heavy blows.

Meanwhile, gang warfare has broken out in East Timor's second-largest city, posing a challenge to U.N. authority, officials said today.

For two weeks, gangs of youths have fought pitched battles for control of the streets in Baucau, 70 miles west of the capital, Dili, said Sergey Lashin, chief of the U.N. police force in East Timor. Several people have been injured, Lashin said.

He said one of the gangs had links to the pro-Indonesia movement.

Officials of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor, which is preparing the territory for eventual self-government, fear the clashes could lead to widespread criminal violence.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, who heads the U.N. mission, said political allegiances were not motivating the violence. Instead, he said, poverty and unemployment were leading people toward crime.

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