Subject: AFP: New Zealand disappointed at light sentence for peacekeepers killer

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

New Zealand disappointed at light sentence for peacekeepers killer

WELLINGTON, March 7 (AFP) - New Zealand will ask Indonesian authorities to appeal to a higher court to increase the sentence of a militiaman jailed for six years for killing a peacekeeper in East Timor, Prime Minister Helen Clark said in a statement Thursday.

Jacobus Bere was found guilty of murdering Private Leonard William Manning, 24, near Suai in East Timor on July 24, 2000.

Bere, 37, was convicted of murder and not the more serious charge of premeditated murder because he did not know Manning at the time of the killing, chief judge Nengah Suryade announced at Central Jakarta district court.

Three other defendants -- Fabianus Ulu, Yohanes Timo and Gabriel Halenoni -- will appear in court on March 14 for verdicts. They are accused of involvement in the murder.

Prosecutors had sought a 12-year jail sentence for Bere and 10 years for the other three.

Clark said the government would ask Indonesian authorities whether or not they would appeal the length of sentence. It was understood that they had seven days in which to lodge an appeal.

"It has been over a year and a half since the killing of Leonard Manning. I know the family will be relieved that the killer has been successfully prosecuted," she said.

"We are disappointed at the short length of sentence given the gravity of the crime, and will ask the Indonesian authorities whether they will look at grounds for an appeal. The maximum sentence for second degree murder is 15 years, and the prosecutor had recommended that Bere receive 12 years. We agree that the killing warranted a longer sentence."

Clark said her government thanked the Indonesian authorities for apprehending and prosecuting Manning's killer.

New Zealand Embassy staff in Jakarta observed the trial and advised that the prosecution was handled professionally and competently, she said.

The four defendants, along with two other men still on the run, shot Manning dead in the rugged border area near Indonesian West Timor, the trial was told earlier.

The six men were said to have crossed into East Timor to look for a stray cow when they encountered the United Nations peacekeeping patrol, which was tracking militia fighters in the area.

Prosecutors said Bere made sure the victim was dead by cutting his throat with a machete and then slashing his ears off. The men also took his firearm.

Pro-Jakarta East Timorese militias, backed by elements of the Indonesian army, launched a campaign of murder and destruction after East Timorese voted in August 1999 for independence from Indonesia.

The six people in Manning's case were among militia members who fled to West Timor shortly after the arrival of international peacekeeping forces in East Timor in September 1999.

Bere was arrested in West Timor and flown to Jakarta last October.

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