Subject: W.Timor police pledge to soon take Atambua UN killers to court

Indonesian Observer October 13, 2000

West Timor police pledge to soon take Atambua UN killers to court

DENPASAR - A police official says the people suspected of brutally murdering three UN staff in Atambua, West Timor, will soon be taken to court.

East Nusa Tenggara Police Chief Brigadier General Made Astika yesterday said dossiers on six suspects are being completed and will soon be delivered to the Atambua District Attorney’s Office.

On September 6, a mob of pro-Jakarta East Timorese militiamen hacked to death and burned three foreign staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Indonesia has been under international fire for its slow disarmament of the militias and for failing bring the culprits to justice. But Astika said the investigation is proceeding smoothly.

"We have completed 75% of the case. A reconstruction has also taken place, so the suspects will no longer make denials," he said after attending a meeting in Bali with UN peacekeepers from East Timor.

Astika said the investigation of the suspects has not resulted in any negative reactions from other pro-Jakarta militiamen in West Timor. He expressed optimism that conditions will remain calm and the suspects will be brought to court.

He said the recent arrest of militia leader Eurico Guterres in Jakarta had prompted a few protests in West Timor, but there were no incidents of unrest.

According to Astika, most of the militiamen understood that Guterres had to abide by legal procedures.

Commenting on the disarmament campaign, dubbed Operation Komodo, he said police had so far confiscated 85 firearms, 456 grenades, 800 rounds of ammunition, and 1,200 homemade guns.

The operation is scheduled to conclude on October 15.

"The operation is being done in two steps. The persuasive operation took place until October 10. After that there have been sweeps and the use of force."

Astika said police will ensure that militiamen who give up their weapons will be safe.

Udayana Military Commander Major General Kiki Syahnakri, who oversees security in Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, yesterday blamed UN chief administrator Sergio de Melo for Indonesia’s failure to repatriate refugees in West Timor who want to return to East Timor.

He said de Melo had not permitted any UNHCR officials to attend a recent meeting on the repatriation of the refugees.

"There are 64 families of militiamen ready to be transported home to the East Timor districts of Los Palos and Viqueque," said Syahnakri.

He said the repatriation of militiamen, especially those who were trained by the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), would encourage all East Timorese refugees to go home.

"The refugees will think that if a militiaman can return home safely, they will also be safe." Syahnakri said he had hoped to have a meeting with UN peacekeepers, UN human rights officials and international migration officials to discuss the repatriation of the refugees. But de Melo canceled the meeting, he added.

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