Subject: JP: Military 'aided civilian guards in East Timor'

The Jakarta Post April 26, 2002

Military 'aided civilian guards in East Timor'

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Witnesses in their testimony on Thursday highlighted a clear link between civilian guards roaming East Timor in the run-up to 1999 ballot and military forces, saying local authorities established and recruited the paramilitary force.

The two witnesses for the prosecution, former East Timor deputy police chief Sr. Comr. Muafi Sahudji and former Dili regent Dominggo Soares, said that the Ministry of Defense was directly involved in establishing and funding the civilian guards, popularly known by the acronym Kamra.

They testified in the adhoc tribunal, Indonesia's first ever human rights trial, of former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares and former East Timor police chief Timbul Silaen.

Silaen and Abilio are accused of committing gross human rights violations in East Timor for failing to prevent killings in the former province before, during, and after the 1999 vote.

However witnesses in their explanation clearly separated the presence of the civilian guards with the pro-integration militias who are perceived to be directly involved in the destruction which swept the territory.

Dominggo maintained that the situation in East Timor became "uncertain" after it was known that those who rejected integration won a massive victory in the ballot.

"The local administration was no longer effective ... Since Timorese camped themselves into two rival groups -- pro-integration and pro-independence -- authorities decided to establish Kamra to help maintain security," said Dominggo whose testimony pertained to the charges against Abilio.

When Judge Komariah Emong asked if members of Dili-based militia Aitarak were also recruited, Dominggo replied: "In Dili yes, there were members of Aitarak who joined Kamra."

Meanwhile witness Muafi, who testified against Silaen, said military and police officers trained Kamra members. However he was quick to stress that "the police only trained them in drill."

The trials were adjourned till Wednesday and Thursday to hear more witnesses for the prosecution.

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