Subject: Guardian: UN Indicts Indon Troops Over "Planned Mass Murder" in Timor

Also: Lusa: East Timor: Authorities to Request Extradition of 10 Atrocity Suspects

The Guardian Friday September 28, 2001

Troops charged over Timor 'extermination'

John Aglionby in Jakarta

United Nations prosecutors in East Timor yesterday filed indictments against two Indonesian soldiers and nine pro-Jakarta militiamen for the "extermination" of villagers at the time of the August 1999 referendum, when the territory voted for independence.

The indictments accuse the suspects of extermination - or "planned mass murder" - inhumane acts, persecution, imprisonment and the deportation of people between April and October 1999. The alleged crimes were committed in Oecussi, the mainly mountainous East Timor enclave on the north coast of Indonesian West Timor, about 25 miles west of the main border.

Only one of the accused, militiaman Florenço Tacaqui, is in detention in the capital, Dili. All the others are thought to be in Indonesia and are unlikely to face justice soon, as Jakarta has so far shown no inclination to extradite indicted war criminals, particularly members of its armed forces.

The UN's general prosecutor in the territory, Mohamed Othman, said the most serious indictment referred to a "horrific" series of events that began on September 7 1999.

"The Sakunar [scorpion] militia met at the district Indonesian military command and they decided to attack three villages in Pasabe sub-district which were predominantly pro-independence," he alleged.

Witnesses claim that this group of about 70 militiamen and soldiers was led by the Sakunar supreme commander, Simao Lopez, and his deputy, Laurentino "Moko" Soares. "They went to the villages of Nibin, Tumin and Kiobiselo, where they killed 18 people and rounded up the villagers and took about 400 to 500 over the border into West Timor," Mr Othman said.

There the prisoners were registered and segregated. "The young men, aged 16 to 30, who had some education, were tied up in pairs and marched back into East Timor," the prosecutor said. "At 3am on September 10, they killed 47 out of 55 of them with guns, swords and machetes."

UN investigators are convinced that it was a planned execution. "We have about 10 survivors," Mr Othman said. "They all give very similar accounts."

Other witnesses told investigators that immediately after the executions the militia went back to Pasabe. "They forced about 100 people to come with shovels on the pretext that they were going to repair roads," Mr Othman said. "But they forced them to bury the corpses and made them take an oath of secrecy."

None of the remains have been identified, so UN officials took blood samples from women who lost sons and sent them to a laboratory in Canada to do DNA matching with the bones. The results are expected in a couple of months.

Mr Othman said more of the alleged perpetrators had not been indicted for the exterminations because the witnesses could not make positive identifications.

Other incidents detailed in the indictments include the imprisonment of 43 people at the police station in Passabe sub-district between April 18-24 1999 and inhumane acts committed against an individual on August 9 1999.

Extradition from Indonesia is expected to be complicated by the fact that the incidents in Oecussi are not covered by Indonesia's ad hoc human rights law, which only authorises investigations into five incidents in 1999.

Even if they were, no one is expecting swift or complete justice in the Indonesian courts. The ad hoc trials have been delayed countless times - they are currently postponed until December - and none of the most senior suspects is among those indicted.

Mr Othman said his special crimes unit would next focus on a massacre in Liquica in April 1999, when it is alleged that Indonesian soldiers, police and militiamen killed dozens of people in a church. "We expect to have indictments ready on this in a couple of weeks," he said.

The UN has been governing East Timor since the 1999 ballot while overseeing a transition to full independence, which is expected in the middle of next year.


28 Sep 01 12:50 East Timor: 
Authorities to Request Extradition of 10 Atrocity Suspects

East Timor`s attorney general plans to request the extradition of 10 suspects now in Indonesia, in wake of the first formal charges for mass murder allegedly committed by anti-independence militias during the 1999 plebiscite period.

"We have already asked the Dili court to issue arrest warrants, which we will send to the Indonesian attorney general to begin the extradition process", the territory`s UN-appointed attorney general, Mohamed Othman, told Lusa on Friday.

The suspects in question are charged with killing 67 people in East Timor`s Oecussi enclave shortly after the August 1999 ballot in which the people of East Timor, then occupied by Indonesia, voted for independence.

The group includes nine militia members and two Indonesian soldiers. All, bar one of the soldiers, are East Timorese.

Only one, Florenço Tacaqui, is in custody in East Timor. The others are at large in Indonesia`s western half of Timor island or elsewhere in that country.

"This accusation is important because it is the first action for mass murder", said Othman, referring to the charges drawn up on Thursday. "They chose men aged between 16 and 30, with some education, tied them up and shot or stabbed them to death", he specified.

The massacres began on September 7, 1999, and were committed by members of the Sakunar militia headed by Simao Lopes and Laurentino Soares, he added.

JBC -Lusa-


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