Subject: Ex-E. Timor Governor Denies Role in Pro-Jakarta Violence

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Ex-East Timor Leader Denies Role


JAKARTA, Indonesia, July 4 (AP) - A former Indonesian governor of East Timor took the stand Thursday and denied responsibility for the violence that shook the province as it voted for independence in 1999.

Meanwhile, an attorney for militia leader Eurico Guterres - who is being tried separately - rejected charges that Guterres had ordered his men to kill pro-independence activists.

Guterres and former governor Abilio Soares are among 18 high-ranking Indonesian officials and militia leaders who face charges that they incited or allowed the violence in East Timor. If convicted, they could be sentenced to death.

The United Nations has blamed Indonesia's army and its militia proxies for the campaign of killing, burning and looting that devastated the province after the independence vote.

Soares told the five-judge panel that he only learned about the bloodshed in which about 1,000 people died from reports he received from his subordinates.

``I knew from the reports I received that 30 percent of Dili was in ruins,'' Soares said. ``But I don't know who was responsible for burning the city.''

Soares admitted he had attended a rally by pro-Indonesian gangs in front of his office in April 1999, where Guterres spoke. But Soares said he only found out later that Guterres and his men had attacked the house of a pro-independence leader Manuel Carrascalao, killing 11 people.

``I always tried to prevent clashes,'' he said. ``But the situation at the time was an emergency. Sometimes my efforts worked, sometimes they did not.''

Jakarta has been under intense pressure to punish those responsible for the destruction of East Timor. Critics are skeptical, however, that any of the defendants will see justice in Indonesian courts, which are considered corrupt and poorly run.

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