Subject: SMH: Top Indon army officers and militia chiefs face indictment in E Timor

Sydney Morning Herald October 6, 2000

Top army officers and militia chiefs face indictment

MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili

United Nations prosecutors in East Timor will release a list of criminal charges within two weeks that includes senior Indonesian military and militia commanders responsible for last year's bloody violence.

The list of names includes Eurico Guterres, the former leader of the anti-independence Aitarak militia now under arrest in Jakarta on a charge of illegal weapons possession.

UN sources in Dili said the list of names included "senior Indonesian military commanders and militia leaders currently living in Indonesia".

One official said that if Jakarta's notoriously inefficient judicial process did not meet international standards of due process an international criminal tribunal in East Timor was almost inevitable.

The murder of three UN international staff in the West Timor border town of Atambua on September 6 has brought demands from the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) for urgent action to curb the paramilitaries.

The administration has also demanded Indonesia bring to justice militia leaders and army officials implicated in last year's violence, and its patience is beginning to run out.

Human rights officials say up to 1,000 people were killed, more than 240,000 deported and property worth tens of millions of dollars destroyed in two weeks of violence following the UN-organised ballot on self-determination on August 30.

"UNTAET will issue indictments against senior TNI [military] and militia leaders in Indonesia, and the Indonesian Government will be required to hand them over to the judicial process in East Timor if they are unable to deal with them in a satisfactory manner," the official warned.

Already one East Timorese militia leader wanted in connection with the Suai cathedral massacre that left up to 200 people killed has gone to ground after being named on a list handed down by Indonesia's Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman.

Igidio Mnanek, a deputy commander of the Laksaur militia, has disappeared in West Timor. He is also wanted for the kidnapping of a 15-year-old East Timorese girl as a "war prize" before fleeing the territory last year.

The girl is believed to have borne a baby, and her parents are distraught with grief, UN human rights sources said.

While UN officials welcomed the news of Guterres's arrest, East Timorese leaders questioned Jakarta's commitment to seeing justice done, and others repeated calls for an international criminal tribunal to be set up.

Guterres has so far kept one step ahead of the law, relying on a network of military supporters for protection. Police who arrested him on Tuesday allege he instructed his followers in West Timor not to turn in their weapons to the authorities and to retrieve guns that had been seized or handed in.

On Monday Indonesian prosecutors named him as a suspect in an attack last year on an East Timorese independence supporter's house that left 12 people dead.

UN officials, who have pressured the Indonesian Government to crack down on the militias, praised the arrest and said the detention of paramilitary leaders was essential to hobbling the groups.

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