Subject: AFP: Timor Trials: Court hears first televised testimony

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse December 16, 2002

Human rights court hears first televised testimony from East Timor

JAKARTA -- A human rights court trying an Indonesian army general heard the first live televised testimony Monday from witnesses in East Timor.

In a broadcast funded by the World Bank, a former Indonesian soldier and a former police detective gave separate accounts of deadly attacks on a church in Suai town and the Dili Catholic church diocese offices in September, 1999.

Few East Timorese have travelled to Jakarta to testify directly before the human rights courts and Marek Michon, officer in charge of the serious crimes unit in Dili, said Monday's testimony was the first by live television link.

The two witnesses, Tobias Dos Santos and Nonato Soares, were concerned about their security, Michon told AFP from Dili.

"They didn't want to go to Jakarta," he said.

Soares testified that one of his children and a nephew died during an attack on the Dili diocese offices where they had sought safety on September 5, 1999, with about 300 other people.

Soares, a former village chief and Indonesian soldier in Dili, said he did not know who killed his relatives but that militias, Indonesian troops and police had been outside the waterfront buildings.

He said he heard that 30 people died in the attack.

Asked whether Indonesian soldiers joined the assault, he said: "That's not clear."

But Soares said he was later stabbed by an Indonesian soldier at the Dili port. He lifted up his shirt to show the wounds, one brown mark clearly visible below his left breast and another on his right side.

Soares was testifying at the trial of Brigadier General Nur Muis, the then East Timor military commander.

His testimony appeared on a large projector screen standing at the end of the prosecutor's bench. Another screen faced the spectators' seats where about 10 members of the Indonesian special forces, Kopassus, watched the proceedings. Major General Adam Damiri, who is undergoing a separate human rights trial, also watched from the public gallery.

In earlier televised testimony, Dos Santos said he did not know who attacked the Ave Maria church in Suai on December 6, 1999 but he said he was told militias were responsible.

Asked whether Indonesian soldiers or police had joined the attack, Dos Santossaid: "I didn't see."

Dos Santos was a local police detective and testified that he checked the bodies of 22 people including three priests killed in the attack. He said he went to the church after hearing gunfire for four hours.

United Nations officials and Indonesian human rights investigators have said the pro-Indonesian militias were armed and organized by the Indonesian security forces. They carried out a brutal campaign of intimidation before East Timor's August, 1999 vote to break away from Indonesia and a revenge campaign of murder, arson, looting and forced deportation afterwards.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed and much of the territory was laid to waste.

All seven army or police officers tried before the human rights court have been acquitted. Two East Timorese civilians have been sentenced to prison but they remain free pending appeal.

Human rights workers have criticized the trials as a sham. The most senior Indonesian officers were not charged in connection with the violence.


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