Subject: East Timor militia boss Guterres faces one year jail term

East Timor militia boss faces one year jail term

JAKARTA, March 22 (Reuters) - Indonesian prosecutors on Thursday asked a court to jail East Timor militia boss Eurico Guterres to 12 months in prison for inciting violence in West Timor last year, well below the maximum sentence of five years.

The requested light sentence is likely to attract criticism from human rights groups and undermine Jakarta's efforts to show it is serious in seeking justice over violence in East and West Timor in recent years.

Guterres, who considers himself an Indonesian, helped lead marauding pro-Jakarta militias that laid waste to tiny East Timor after the territory voted overwhelmingly to break from Indonesia's harsh rule in August 1999.

If sentenced, he will have his term cut by around six months because he has been under detention for that period.

"The accused Eurico Guterres was found to have committed crimes by inciting (trouble) in public... We ask the council of judges to pass a one-year jail term minus his time in detention," prosecutor Hamka Minhadj told the North Jakarta Court.

Guterres, the youthful and notorious head of the feared Aitarak militia, is accused of inciting violence last September in Atambua, a border town in Indonesian West Timor. The riot forced two United Nations observers to flee to East Timor.

The observers were investigating the killing in the town of three U.N. aid workers which was widely blamed on East Timorese militiamen opposed to their homeland's break from Jakarta's rule.

East Timor is now under U.N. administration after an international military force entered following the 1999 vote to restore order.

The arrival of foreign troops in the former Portuguese colony prompted the militias to flee across the border into West Timor, where they continue to harass some 100,000 East Timorese refugees they herded there after the independence vote.

In response to the sentence demanded by prosecutors, Guterres said: "I don't see any signs of justice." He has previously denied any wrongdoing.

The trial was adjourned until April 3 and the court is expected to hand down its verdict in the next few weeks.


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