Subject: East Timor militia leader likely to snub probe summons

East Timor militia leader likely to snub probe summons

JAKARTA, Sept 12 (AFP) - Former East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres is unlikely to answer a summons to appear here Thursday for questioning over last year's violence in East Timor, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Investigators sent a summons to Guterres last week instructing him to appear for questioning in Jakarta, Attorney General's Office spokesman Yushar Yahya said.

Yahya told AFP investigators wanted to question Guterres as a witness in the orgy of killing and destruction unleashed on East Timor last year by military-backed pro-Indonesia militias.

Guterres led the Aitarak (Thorn) militia in the lead-up to the United Nations-supervised ballot on independence in the half-island territory just over a year ago.

Yahya refused to say how Guterres would be brought from the province of West Timor, where he is now based, to the Indonesian capital.

"Later we will see," he said.

But Guterres' lawyer told AFP his client had not yet received the summons and, while "willing", was unlikely to come to Jakarta.

"The plan is that Eurico is willing and will show up after he receives the summons," lawyer Suhardi Sumomulyono said.

"But I'm pessimistic over whether he will appear because he is currently in Atambua trying to restrain his men from becoming brutal and emotional over the death of Olivio (Mendosa Moruk)," Suhardi added.

Olivio, the leader of the Laksaur militia, was murdered last Tuesday near the West Timor border town of Atambua, four days after being named a suspect in the East Timor investigations, and on the same day a summons was sent to him.

His death has been portrayed by the militia as the catalyst for the murder of three UN refugee workers and an unclear number of local people by enraged militias.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has accused Guterres of being "one of those involved in leading" the September 6 attack, a claim which has been denied by the militia leader.

"If the minister said that I was behind all this, it is not true, it is wrong," Guterres said, in an interview published Tuesday in The Australian daily.

He said he was in the West Timor capital of Kupang when the killings took place, and did not drive to Atambua until late in the afternoon.

Yahya said that if Guterres ignored the summons to appear Thursday, investigators could summons him two more times before forcing him to appear, as Indonesian law stipulates.

The omission of Guterres -- and top military commanders -- from a list of 19 suspects announced 11 days ago raised questions over the investigation team's approach to the prosecution of crimes in East Timor.

Investigators have repeatedly said more suspects could be added to the list after further examination of those already named.

On Tuesday investigators were due to probe the former military chiefs of the towns of Suai and Liquisa, as well as six witnesses, including the former military commander for the region that oversaw East Timor, Major General Adam Damiri, Yahya said.

But Damiri, also named a suspect, was in Malaysia on a military mission despite a summons to appear Monday for questioning, and his lawyer Yan Juanda said he would not return in time for Tuesday's questioning.

Yahya said the other two militia leaders named as suspects, Izidio Manek and Martinus Bere, had been summonsed to appear next week in Jakarta.

Manek was had told to appear Monday and Bere the following Wednesday.

Yahya said the two were now under police protection in an undisclosed place in West Timor. He refused to say how they would be brought to Jakarta.

Indonesia's human rights commission has demanded that the 18 remaining suspects be locked up in cells at the attorney general's office after Olivio's death to prevent "the same fate befalling other suspects."

Commission chairman Joko Sugianto has said he feared other "important evidence" would be lost if the other militia suspects were also killed.

At least 600 East Timorese lost their lives in the violence which engulfed East Timor after the overwhelming vote in favour of independence from Indonesia.

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