Subject: Indon police say Timor militia leader lawfully arrested

Indonesian police say Timor militia leader lawfully arrested

JAKARTA, Oct 16 (AFP) - Lawyers for the Indonesian police said Monday that the arrest of notorious former East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres had been carried out in line with the right procedures.

"The arrest of the plaintiff (Guterres) was carried out with an arrest warrant dated on October 4," lawyer Suyitno (eds: one name) told a district court at the opening of Guterres' pre-trial lawsuit against the police.

Guterres was arrested on October 4 for having ordered his men to take back weapons they had surrendered earlier during an arms handover ceremony in Atambua on the border of West and East Timor on September 24.

Guterres' lawyer, Suhardi Sumomulyono, argued police had come to his client's hotel room and had merely invited him to police headquarters to discuss the problem in West Timor.

But once he was there they told him that he was under arrest.

Suyitno told the court however that police detectives had shown the former militia leader the arrest warrent before he was detained.

If found guilty, Guterres, now under police detention, faces a maximum of six years in prison for inciting people to carry out crimes against the government.

Guterres is also wanted by prosecutors in East Timor for two massacres there in April 1999.

Indonesian authorities have refused a request by UN administrators in East Timor to extradite Guterres to Dili, offering instead to let Dili prosecutors question him in Jakarta.

Suyitno added the arrest warrant had been based on "sufficient early evidence" gathered by police in the West Timor border district of Belu.

"Dossiers obtained from testimonies from witnesses have basically implicated the plaintiff ... had ordered his men to repossess their weapons," Suyitno said.

Guterres is already a suspect in Indonesia's own probe into the militia-led violence in East Timor last year.

State prosecutors have questioned him twice over an attack on the refugee-packed house of East Timorese independence leader, Manuel Carrascalao, on April 16, 1999 in which 12 people died.

Dili prosecutors have also implicated Guterres in the massacre of independence supporters at a church in Liquica 10 days earlier.

Guterres was head of the feared Dili-based Aitarak (Thorn) militia group, and was also the deputy commander of the overall East Timor militia forces.

Since his arrest, Guterres has been hailed as a hero and a patriot by Indonesia's top political leaders, who are challenging his detention.

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