Subject: SMH: E. Timor militia leader hobnobs as prosecutors dither

Sydney Morning Herald May 2, 2000

Militia leader hobnobs as prosecutors dither

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

Reports that Indonesian authorities are serious about bringing to justice Eurico Guterres, East Timor's most notorious militia commander, appear to be premature.

The long-haired, black-clad, former gang leader in Dili is often seen mingling with Indonesia's elite at a official functions in Jakarta.

Since retreating to West Timor last September, after thugs of his Aitarak militia group had finished their killing, looting and raping rampages in East Timor, Mr Guterres has been pushing himself as a pop star, producing a cassette tape that sells in the local markets.

The songs are mostly anti-independence for East Timor, the words mocking of the United Nations, which now administers the newly independent nation.

According to reports last week, Mr Guterres had run into trouble with police in Kupang, the capital of Indonesian-ruled West Timor, apparently for possessing a machine-gun.

"There is a possibility of taking the case to court," West Timor police chief Mr Yusuf Sudrajat said.

But despite Jakarta's promises that authorities would punish the militia leaders and others responsible for the East Timor violence, Mr Guterres appears to be getting special treatment.

While a court in West Timor last week sentenced another militia leader, Moko Soares, to 18 months in jail for a similar offence, Mr Guterres was allowed to go free.

"He is a suspect now," was all Kupang police officer Mr Salah Saaf would say.

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