Subject: Pro-Indonesian Militiaman on Trial for Murder

Pro-Indonesian Militiaman on Trial for Murder

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Nov. 7 (AP) - A pro-Indonesian militiaman said Wednesday that he shot a U.N. peacekeeper to death in East Timor last year.

``I killed him using an SKS automatic gun with six other friends in the jungle,'' Yacobus Bere told reporters as he headed into a Jakarta court to face murder charges.

Bere, 38, is accused of killing Pvt. Leonard William Manning of New Zealand on July 24, 2000, in an attack by a militia patrol near the border with Indonesian-held West Timor. The soldier's body was then mutilated.

``I did it to defend the red and white flag and to demand our assets that are still in East Timor to be returned to us,'' said Bere, who wore a red and white Indonesian flag around his neck.

Manning had been serving with a U.N. force dispatched to East Timor to restore order after pro-Indonesian militiamen ravaged the territory when it voted for independence from Indonesian rule in September 1999.

Bere, along with about 100,000 refugees, fled to neighboring West Timor when peacekeepers arrived.

In court, prosecutor Muhammad Syafei said Bere shot Manning twice in the head and then cut off his ears and stole his weapon.

He said Bere had been charged with premeditated murder, punishable by more than 20 years in prison.

Judge I Ningah Suriada adjourned until next Tuesday when lawyers for Bere will present the defense case.

Earlier this year, six militiaman were convicted in the murders of three U.N. aid workers in West Timor. They were sentenced to between 10 and 20 months in jail by a Jakarta court. The world body criticized the sentences as being too lenient.


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