Subject: AFP: Militiaman says New Zealand peacekeeper killed in skirmish

Also: Suspected Murderer of UN Peacekeeper Requests Trial at International Court

Agence France Presse

November 13, 2001 Tuesday

Timor militiaman says New Zealand peacekeeper killed in skirmish


A New Zealand peacekeeping soldier was killed in an armed skirmish in East Timor last year and not intentionally murdered, lawyers for a militiaman charged with his death said Tuesday.

Yacobus Bere, 37, could face the death penalty if convicted, but his laywers argued that Private Leonard William Manning died in a shootout.

Manning, 24, was shot when New Zealand troops serving with the UN peacekeeping force (UNPKF) were tracking militia fighters in a rugged border area near Suai in East Timor on July 24, 2000.

"The actual and factual reality of what has taken place in Timor Leste (East Timor) was that there was a shootout or a war between the defendant and his friends against UNPKF soldiers" which was the cause of Manning's death, lawyer Nicolai Apriliano told the Central Jakarta district court.

Bere and five other armed men were in the area when they encountered a vehicle of the peacekeeping forces.

Reports have said Manning was shot twice, his ears were cut off and his firearm was stolen.

Apriliano called for the trial to be scrapped because prosecutors had never carried out "an investigation at the scene of the crime" and had made wrongly described his client as a farmer.

At Tuesday's defence plea hearing, Bere told chief judge I Nengah Suryada that his current profession was a "member of the Pro-Integration Fighters (PPI)."

PPI was formed and financed by the Indonesian military to counter pro-independence East Timor rebels. It was disbanded after the territory voted for independence in a UN-sponsored ballot in August 1999.

Apriliano argued that Bere cannot be charged with murder and carrying a concealed weapon because pro-Jakarta East Timorese had never acknowledged East Timor's independence.

The Indonesian military had said it had banned pro-Jakarta militiamen currently sheltering in West Timor from carrying weapons.

One of Bere's accomplices has died while two are still on the run, according to the prosecution.

Two other men are still being questioned by police in Indonesian West Timor. Prosecutors said they would soon be brought to trial separately but gave no date.

The trial was adjourned until next Tuesday to hear arguments from prosecutors.

After the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia, pro-Jakarta militias backed by the Indonesian military embarked on an orgy of killing and destruction.

Bere, an East Timorese, fled to West Timor shortly after the arrival of UN peacekeeping forces in East Timor the following month. He was arrested in West Timor and was flown to Jakarta last month.

Sporadic border clashes between militiamen based in West Timor and UN peacekeepers continued in 2000 and this year.

Suspected Murderer of UN Peacekeeper Requests Trial at International Court 13 Nov 2001 18:53:8 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The legal advisers to Yacobus Dere, the suspected murderer of New Zealand peacekeeper Leonard William Manning, have insisted that Dere should be tried by an International Court and that the charges against Dere be withdrawn given that the murder location was a hill under the jurisdiction of newly independent Timor Leste.

Dere's lawyers, Suhardi SH, Nicholay AB, SH and Sunaryo Saruddin, SH, requested that the presiding Indonesian justices accept this demurrer and withdraw the charges against the suspect.

"In our opinion, Timor Leste is yet to obtain its judicial or political sovereignty. So, let's be fair, this case should be tried at an International Court," one of Dere's lawyers, Nicholay, said to the press after the trial today (13/11).

Apart from the issue of 'locus delicti' (the location of the murder - Ed.), Dere's lawyers also questioned the incorrect description of the suspects occupation in the prosecutor's letter of accusation. In the letter it was said that Dere worked as a farmer. In fact, Dere is still listed as the member of the Pro-Integration Fighters (PPI).

According to Nicholay, the government have prioritized this case as a gesture to the international world that they are serious about bringing people to justice for the atrocities in East Timor post-Independence Referendum. Suhardi, another lawyer for Dere, added that the prosecutor's charges did not detail the area where the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police (Polri) troops were on guard at that time. These troops, he said, were supposed to guard the border area of West Timor of Indonesia and East Timor. Suhardi also questioned why the security apparatus permitted Dere to carry his weapons in the first place.

Public Prosecutor M. Syafei denied that the case was not in accordance with the locus delicti principle. "I will prove otherwise during my statement in the next trial," Syafei said.

Dere was named a suspect in the premeditated murder of Leonard William Manning, a New Zealander peacekeeper stationed at Debululik Hill, East Timor, on July 24, 2000. Prior to the murder, Dere and five of his associates were involved in an armed clash with UN peacekeepers. This clash then led to Manning's murder.

Dere's arrest was made on July 4, 2001. His trial has been adjourned until Tuesday next week (20/11) when the prosecutor will deliver his demurrer.

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