Subject: AFP: Survivor says soldiers, police fired shots at refugee-filled Timor church

Agence France-Presse 
July 17, 2002

Survivor says soldiers, police fired shots at refugee-filled Timor church

A survivor of a bloody attack on a refugee-filled church compound in East Timor in April 1999 said Wednesday he saw uniformed Indonesian soldiers and police fire shots into the compound.

Antonio Concecao Santos, 27, was testifying to Indonesia's human right court in the trial of two officers and one former official for gross human rights violations in the territory.

Santos, an assistant to the pastor at the time, said that "not only police but soldiers also fired shots" at the compound at Liquica on April 6, 1999.

"The shots were all directed towards the church," he said, adding that all the windows of the priest's residence were smashed by bullets.

Santos, now a policeman in newly independent East Timor, was the only East Timorese witness to appear at the trial. Prosecutors had asked for six to appear.

Official Indonesian accounts portray the violence before and after East Timor's independence vote in August 1999 as spontaneous clashes between pro- and anti-Jakarta local factions, which the military could not control.

But evidence is emerging at the rights trials that some Indonesian soldiers were directly involved in the bloodshed, as many observers have long claimed.

Santos said he particularly remembered one soldier in full uniform shooting towards the church.

Santos said the shooting took place during an attack by pro-Indonesian local militias on the church compound, where thousands of civilians had sought refuge following a spate of violence between rival groups in the area in previous days.

The witness, who said he was later sheltered at the district military headquarters, said the attack began with a tear-gas bomb thrown into the compound.

Santos said he saw at least four people being killed by machetes but he knew of 11 people who had died. Prosecutors say 22 people were killed.

The witness identified the attackers as members of three local militias.

In the dock were army Lieutenant Colonel Asep Kuswani, 44, police Lieutenant Colonel Adios Salova, 43, and civilian Leoneto Martins -- the former heads of the Indonesian military, police and civil administration in Liquica district.

They face sentences ranging from 10 years in prison to death if convicted of gross human rights violations.

Several soldiers packed the courtroom in a show of support for the defendants while some 120 police were deployed at the courthouse to assure security for the witness.

A total of 17 military, police, militia and civilian officials have now gone on trial and one more soldier is due to face the rights court.

Pro-Jakarta militiamen, created and supported by Indonesian military elements, waged a brutal campaign of intimidation before East Timor's vote to separate from Indonesia.

At least 1,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died from the intimidation efforts and in a violent scorched-earth revenge campaign after the vote.

Indonesia set up the court to deflect pressure for an international war crimes tribunal. The trials are being watched closely by the world for proof that Jakarta will punish those behind the violence.

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