Subject: JP: Minimum sentence demanded for former East Timor police chief

The Jakarta Post July 26, 2002

Minimum sentence demanded for former East Timor police chief

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Prosecutors in the human rights trial of the 1999 East Timor debacle demanded on Thursday a 10-and-a-half-year jail term for former East Timor police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen for committing crimes against humanity.

The sentencing demand is six months more than the minimum 10-year jail term stipulated in the law.

According to the 2000 law on human rights abuses, the incumbent chief of the Logistics and Procurement Department at the National Police Headquarters -- who is the third defendant in the case -- could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Earlier, minimum prison sentences were also recommended for former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares and former Covalima regency authorities comprising four military officers and one policeman prosecuted in separate trials.

But Abilio was charged with murder and torture, which carry the death penalty.

Prosecutor James Pardede wrapped up the case, saying his team had put together a convincing indictment.

"We demand the court declare the defendant guilty of crimes against humanity by failing in his duty to take appropriate steps to avoid human rights abuses in which civilians in his jurisdiction were killed.

"The defendant also failed to order an investigation into whether his subordinates participated in attacks on civilians or to bring the perpetrators to justice," Pardede read the sentencing recommendation.

The prosecutors considered the fact that the defendant did not do his utmost to handle the atrocities in the former Indonesian province, which took place before and after the East Timorese independence ballot on Aug. 30, 1999, as an incriminating factor.

Mitigating factors were that the defendant had a family to take care of, and that victims Manuel Viegas Carrascalao and Dili Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo once thanked and awarded him for his efforts in safeguarding the ballot.

Presiding Judge Andi Samsan Nganro gave one week for the defendant to prepare his defense statement.

To the press, Timbul Silaen expressed astonishment at the sentence demand and called it baseless "because none of the testimonies ever stated that the police had done nothing".

The prosecutors stated that police personnel were involved in attacks by pro-Jakarta militiamen and supporters.

The April 6, 1999 attack, led by the Besi Merah Putih militia, on prointegration civilians taking refuge in the residence of Catholic priest Rafael dos Santos inside the Liqui‡a Church compound claimed at least 22 lives.

On April 17, 1999, the Integration Fighters (PPI) led an attack on the residence of Manuel Carrascalao and Bishop Belo. Fourteen civilians were reported killed in the attack.

The Suai massacre on Sept. 6, two days after the ballot result was announced, claimed the lives of another 27 people taking refuge in St. Ave Maria Church, including three Catholic priests.


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