Subject: Militia member admits to stabbing UNHCR worker

The Jakarta Post February 24, 2001

Militia member admits to stabbing UNHCR worker

JAKARTA (JP): A pro-integration East Timorese militia member told the North Jakarta District Court on Thursday that he had stabbed a UNHCR humanitarian aid worker after witnessing another man do the same thing.

"I stabbed the man once and then I went home. I didn't know if he was alive or not after I left," Joao Alves da Cruis testified in the trial over last year's incident in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, involving the murder of three UNHCR workers.

He said that he attacked the victim after seeing Joao Martin stabbing him.

The court is trying six militia members in two separate trials.

Alves, who stands trial along with Jose Fransisco and Julius Naesama, was testifying in the trial of Joao Martin, Xisto Pareira and Serapim Jimenez.

On Sept. 6 last year, the mob attacked the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, set the building on fire and killed three foreign staff: Fero Simundza, Carlos de Seros and Samson Aregafoe.

The incident is believed to have been triggered by the death of Olivio Mendoza Moruk, a former militia leader, a day earlier. Moruk was one of 23 suspects named by the Attorney General's Office for human rights violations in East Timor in 1999.

Jose Fransisco told the court that he saw Joao Martin throwing a stone towards the chest of one of the victims.

"The black skinned man was holding a 50-centimeter club and tried to hit Joao. Joao, who was five meters away, then threw a stone which hit the man's chest," he told the court.

He also testified that he heard yells encouraging the mob to attack the UNHCR office.

The witness said that he saw Izidio Manek, Olivio's younger brother, firing two shots, which provoked the people to break into the office.

Naesama testified later that he had not seen his cousins Xisto Pareira and Serapim Jimenez at the crime scene. He also said that he did not commit any violent acts.

"I didn't do anything, I just went into the UNHCR office. People came because they wanted to pay respect to our friend Olivio Moruk.

"I saw nothing and got home before the fire got bigger. Later I heard on the radio that three people had been killed and that the fire had burned their bodies," he said.

Prosecutor Widodo Supriadi then showed judges the blood-stained stone, believed to be the one used to hit the victim.

The hearings were adjourned until Monday when defense witnesses will be heard.(bby)

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