Subject: SMH: Five militia face murder charges

Sydney Morning Herald 21/03/00

Five militia face murder charges

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili

Five ex-militiamen who crossed into East Timor from Indonesia have been arrested by New Zealand United Nations peacekeepers and face murder charges related to last year's post-ballot violence.

Lieutenant-Colonel Brynjar Nymo told reporters on Monday that the pro-Jakarta militia were apprehended in two groups.

The first group of 12 ex-militia crossed in a convoy organised by the UN refugee agency UNHCR last Friday hoping to return to their home village at Zumalai, about 30 kilometres east of Suai.

A riot erupted on Saturday after villagers identified one of the men as an alleged murderer, and all 12 were returned to Suai for their protection.

"A second attempt was made on Sunday to reintegrate the 11, excluding the alleged murderer," Colonel Nymo said. "That process went quite well and they have all been accepted in the village. The 12th person is being held by Civpol [UN police] on murder charges."

He said four other ex-militia of a group of five who tried to cross into East Timor on foot had been arrested on murder charges, and one other was being detained for questioning over suspicions he was an active member of a pro-Jakarta militia group.

"The message should be quite clearly understood on the other side [West Timor] that it is quite safe for ex-militia to return and be reintegrated into East Timor provided they are not guilty of serious crimes," Colonel Nymo said.

A UN spokesman said there were about 50 people in detention in Dili, most of whom faced serious charges relating to last September's violence.

Youth drunkenness in Dili continues to pose an increasing law and order problem following two incidents at the weekend.

A group of East Timorese were involved in a fracas outside the Olympia floating hotel after being refused admission on Saturday night.

The same gang loitered at the waterfront before entering the nearby Dili Hotel later where they abused customers and turned over chairs and tables after their demands for free drinks were rejected.

A Jordanian peacekeeping officer walking to military headquarters on Saturday night was slightly injured in a knife attack by two unidentified East Timorese assailants.

Many East Timorese remain suspicious of Jordan's role in the peacekeeping force over links between the ruling monarch, King Abdullah, and Lieutenant-General Probowo Subianto, son-in-law of ousted Indonesian dictator president Soeharto.

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