Subject: SMH: Militia leader Laurentino Soares jailed for firearms

Sydney Morning Herald April 28, 2000

Militia leader jailed for firearms

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Suai

An Indonesian court has jailed the notorious militia leader Laurentino Soares, known as Moko, for up to three years for illegally possessing firearms, according to United Nations observers.

UN military officials said yesterday that Soares, who is wanted by the UN in connection with armed violence and murders committed in the East Timor enclave of Oecussi, was appealing against Wednesday's sentence.

The officials, speaking in the East Timor town of Suai, said they had been advised of the sentence by UN observers who attended the trial in Indonesian West Timor.

The jailing is the first evidence that Indonesian authorities are making serious efforts to crack down on militia leaders in West Timor.

Another prominent militia leader, Eurico Guterres, was questioned this week by Indonesian police and military over a shooting six weeks ago.

Guterres allegedly fired shots at a government-owned car. He was allegedly found to possess a machine-gun.

Senior UN military commanders and diplomats welcomed the news of Soares's sentencing.

Brigadier Duncan Lewis, UN commander of the western sector, which takes in East Timor's 170-kilometre border with Indonesia, appealed to Indonesian authorities to hand over other militia leaders sought over crimes committed during bloody post-ballot violence in September.

"For militia leaders in West Timor who have a case to answer, it would be a serious confidence- building measure if they could be brought to face due process," he said.

"I hear Eurico Guterres has been firing shots at Indonesian police, but I don't see yet any action taken against him. The fate of those militia leaders could be taken as a good measure of Indonesian Government intent.

"I continue to be concerned at the number of militia leaders who are still at large in West Timor."

A second Indonesian Army battalion deployed along the border indicated "a good spirit of co-operation" from the Indonesian military, Brigadier Lewis said.

"I'm rather less worried about what's happening on the border compared to what is happening beyond the border."

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