Subject: Indonesia Court Frees Timor Militia Leader After UN Call

Associated Press July 26, 2000

Indonesia Crt Frees Timor Militia Leader After UN Call

JAKARTA (AP)--Just hours after the U.N. Security Council called on Jakarta to crack down on anti-independence gangs conducting raids in East Timor, an Indonesian court Wednesday threw out criminal charges against a prominent militia leader.

The official Antara news agency said the district court in Kupang, in Indonesian West Timor, freed Eurico Guterres after dismissing charges that he had illegally carried weapons.

Presiding Judge Adelbert Tobing said the charges filed by Indonesian police against Guterres had been "vague." He said it wasn't clear whether Guterres, who is among hundreds of other militiamen sheltering in West Timor, was a civilian or a part of Indonesian military.

Guterres, head of the pro-Indonesian Aitarak militia, was arrested in Kupang in April.

Possession of automatic weapons is a felony in Indonesia and can carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

The militia groups have been accused of murdering hundreds of people in East Timor before and after a U.N.-supervised ballot on Aug. 30 in which the territory's people voted for independence from Indonesian rule.

Guterres' Aitarak militia was based in Dili, East Timor's capital, and is blamed for much of the bloody mayhem.

The violence was quelled by international peacekeepers who were deployed across the devastated half-island territory in September.

Since then many militiaman fled to Indonesian West Timor. They have been accused of terrorizing East Timorese refugees in camps there and of regularly conducting cross-border attacks.

On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council demanded Indonesia take tough action against militia groups after a U.N. peacekeeper was killed by a gang near the border.

The council urged Indonesia to cooperate with East Timor's U.N. administration "to end incursions from West Timor, to disarm and disband the militias, and to prosecute militia members guilty of crimes," said Patricia Durant, the council president and Jamaica's ambassador.

The call was made after a U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor accused a militia group of shooting a New Zealand army private to death and then mutilating his body on Monday.


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