Subject: AFP: UN police arrest East Timor massacre suspect

Agence France Presse January 13, 2000, Thursday

UN police arrest East Timor massacre suspect

DILI, East Timor, Jan 13

UN civilian police here have arrested a pro-Indonesian militiaman implicated in one of the first mass murders committed in East Timor last year, officials said Thursday.

"A man has been arrested at his home in Liquica on Monday in relation to murders committed in April," Refik Hodzic, a spokesman for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, told AFP.

He said the suspect, a member of the Besi Merah Putih (Red White Iron) militia, is now in the Dili jail run by international peacekeepers. Hodzic declined to provide the suspect's name or say which massacre he is allegedly linked to, because he has not yet appeared before a judge.

East Timor's new judges were only appointed last Friday and will not be able to review the man's case until Monday at the earliest, Hodzic said.

UN police believe at least 56 people and possibly more than 100 were murdered in early April during a church massacre in Liquica. Days later, 12 or 13 people were killed when militia attacked the home of independence leader Manuel Carrascalao, who had been sheltering refugees in Dili.

They were the first mass killings by militias backed by Indonesian armed forces in a campaign of terror ahead of and after the August 30 ballot in which the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

Police arrested the murder suspect a day before they began exhuming the bodies of some of the victims from the two April massacres.

They had been buried in 16 graves beside the sea in the village of Maubara, just west of Liquica and about 45 minutes drive west of the capital, Dili.

The graves were marked with wooden crosses inscribed with the date of their death and their names. Friedrich Prax, one of the police investigators, said it was a clear message to local residents that if they supported independence, they would also end up dead.

One local resident said they had been told by militias not to talk about what happened. After Indonesian forces finally withdrew in late October, witnesses broke their silence.


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