Subject: AFP: Former Dili mayor says militias received no govt aid

Agence France Presse

August 6, 2002 Tuesday

Former Dili mayor says militias received no govt aid


The former mayor of the East Timor capital Dili denied Tuesday that pro-Jakarta militia groups during Indonesian rule received any aid from the government or the military.

Matheus Moie told a human rights court that the militias, formed in each of East Timor's 13 districts in early 1999, were independent and voluntary groups which did not receive pay from the government.

"There was no aid or assistance whatsoever from the government for the PPI because there was no official decree concerning their existence," Moie said.

He was testifying at the trial of Lieutenant Colonel Sujarwo, a former Dili military commander accused of gross human rights violations during the militia violence in the territory in 1999.

The PPI is the Indonesian acronym for the Integration Fighters' Force, an umbrella organization for the various militia groups.

Moie said that the militias also received no guidance from the military. But some members were former partisans and soldiers who had the experience to train them.

Many parties, including the United Nations, have said the militias were set up, nurtured and supported by elements of the Indonesian armed forces to foil an independence vote.

The militias launched a campaign of terror and intimidation before the vote on August 30, 1999, and a revenge campaign after East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia.

At least 1,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died that year and whole towns were burnt to the ground.

subordinates from involvement in two cases of violence in Dili on September 5 and 6.

Some 15 people were killed in attacks by army-backed militias on the refugee-packed Dili diocese and the residence of the bishop.

Suwarjo is one of 18 soldiers, policemen or civilians now facing trial at the rights court for crimes against humanity in East Timor. First verdicts are expected next week.

Indonesia set up the rights court to deflect pressure for a UN tribunal into the slaughter. It is being closely watched by the world for proof that Jakarta will punish those behind the violence.

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