Subject: Indonesian officers grilled over murder of Dutch journalist

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post Monday, January 28, 2002

Officers grilled over murder of Dutch journalist

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office have begun questioning two army officers as part of their investigation into the 1999 murder of a Dutch journalist in East Timor, officials said on Saturday.

Head of the East Nusa Tenggara provincial prosecutors' office Abdul Muis Gassing said that the two -- Lt. Col. Pieter Lobo, chief of South Central Timor Military District command and Lt. Col. Wilmard Aritonang, chief of Kupang Military District Command -- were being questioned on suspicions that they had knowledge of the killing.

The questioning, by prosecutors Sirus Sinaga and Teuku Rahman, has been taking place since Thursday, according to Gassing, addressing reporters in Kupang.

Both Lobo and Aritonang were previously stationed in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, during the period when the killing took place.

Gassing said that the killers were believed to be members of the 745th Infantry Battalion, stationed in Dili, which was assigned to evacuate locals following an outbreak of militia violence that stemmed from a UN-sponsored referendum on independence.

In the past however, the Indonesian Military (TNI) has always denied allegations that any in its ranks were behind the murder.

Gassing said that the two officers were suspected of being fully aware of the incident that took place in Becora, Dili, East Timor on Sept. 22, 1999, in which the Jakarta-based writer for London's Financial Times Sander Thoenes was murdered.

Thoenes was found dead with multiple wounds and an ear missing. He was murdered only two hours after he arrived in Dili.

"Officer Lobo ... was assigned to oversee areas covered by troops of the 745th Infantry Battalion," meanwhile, "Aritonang is being questioned, as he was the first officer to receive the troops when they arrived in Kupang," West Timor, Gassing said.

Besides the two officers, the former head of the Atambua regency Petrus Bria Seran and a mechanic, Aba Jawas, were also questioned.

Seran was among the local officials who also welcomed the troops on their arrival at Atambua, West Timor, which is in the border area. 

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