Subject: Pro-Jakarta Militiaman Returns To E Timor To Face Justice

Associated Press October 17, 2001

Pro-Jakarta Militiaman Returns To E Timor To Face Justice

SALELE, East Timor (AP)--With hundreds of his followers in tow, a notorious East Timorese militia leader implicated in the violence that followed the territory's vote for independence in 1999 returned home Wednesday to face justice.

Nemecio Lopes de Carvalho, deputy commander of the Mahidi paramilitary gang, is the most senior anti-independence leader to return yet.

Pro-Jakarta militias murdered hundreds of people, laid waste to the territory and forced 300,000 to flee to West Timor after the overwhelming majority of voters opted to secede from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored ballot in August, 1999.

U.N. agencies say around 50,000 East Timorese refugees remain in the camps which are controlled by the former militiamen.

Wednesday's return follows almost a year of negotiations between U.N. administrators, East Timorese leaders and former militiamen from West Timor.

By late Wednesday, about 300 refugees had crossed into East Timor on trucks loaded down by sacks of rice, aluminum fencing, plastic chairs and chickens. About 500 more were expected to return on Thursday.

"I am convinced the people of East Timor will receive us," said de Carvalho after he entered East Timor with the first truckloads of refugees at Salele, 100 kilometers southwest of the capital, Dili.

"I am ready to face justice," he added before heading for Dili to be interviewed by U.N. prosecutors, who have implicated him in the 1999 carnage but have yet to issue a warrant for his arrest.

De Carvalho, said his brother Cancio, Mahidi ex-commander, is expected to return next month.

The militias were gangs of thugs recruited by the Indonesian army in an effort to intimidate voters into opting for integration.

Mahidi - an acronym for Life or Death for Indonesia - was one of the most feared paramilitary gangs operating in the province prior to the independence vote. Human rights investigators have accused the de Carvalho brothers of committing numerous crimes in the border area they controlled.

They have denied any wrongdoing and have said that Indonesian army commanders had incited the bloodshed.

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