Subject: E.Timor issues indictment over Dutch reporter murder

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

also: E Timor Indicts Two Indonesian Soldiers For 1999 Slayings

E.Timor issues indictment over Dutch reporter murder

By Dean Yates

JAKARTA, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Investigators in East Timor have issued an indictment against two Indonesian military officers over the 1999 killing of a Dutch journalist around the time the territory voted to break from Jakarta's harsh rule.

The United Nations, which administered East Timor until its formal independence last May, said in a statement that arrest warrants had been requested from the Dili District Court and would then be forwarded to Indonesia's attorney-general.

The indictment, the first to be issued over the murder of Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes, also covered the alleged killing of 20 other civilians. A military spokesman in Jakarta denied all the accusations against the two officers.

Thoenes, 30, was killed in the East Timor capital Dili on September 21, 1999, when tension was high following a landslide vote by East Timorese to break from 24 years of Indonesian rule. He was shot in the torso and an ear was cut off.

Machete-wielding pro-Jakarta militia -- backed by elements of the Indonesian military -- laid waste to East Timor following the vote and the U.N. estimates more than 1,000 people were killed.

The statement by the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) said the indictment was against the commanding officer of Battalion 745 at the time and a platoon commander.

"The indictment charges 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including 14 counts of murder in which members of Battalion 745 are alleged to have killed 21 civilians during September 1999," the statement said.

The U.N. is providing assistance to the fledgling democracy for another two years following East Timor's formal independence, including rebuilding the territory's legal and court system.

Both the military officers are believed to be residing in Indonesia, the statement added. It did not name them.

Deputy military spokesman Brigadier-General Tono Suratman -- East Timor's military commander at the time of the bloody vote -- said Battalion 745 found Thoenes's body, but did not kill him.

"It was certainly not them that did it," Suratman said.

A special human rights court in Jakarta has been hearing 18 cases connected to the East Timor violence, including that of Suratman, who faces the death penalty after being accused of letting his troops murder civilians. He denies any wrongdoing.

Barman Zahir, spokesman for the Attorney-General's office, said Indonesia's own investigation into the journalist's killing had been suspended because of limited staff.

He indicated Indonesia would not cooperate in sending the two officers to East Timor.

"We have to look at the arrest warrant first. We cannot arrest our (military officers) just like that...We had an agreement with East Timor that human rights trials should be held in Indonesia, not in East Timor," Zahir told Reuters.

The Jakarta court has delivered verdicts for seven of the 18 defendants but only one has been found guilty. The other six, all Indonesian soldiers or policemen, have been set free, triggering scorn from human rights groups.

Suratman, like the other military and police defendants on trial, has remained on active duty during a process being closely watched by the international community.

E Timor Indicts Two Indonesian Soldiers For 1999 Slayings

JAKARTA, Nov. 6 (AP)--Two Indonesian soldiers were among seven people indicted Wednesday in East Timor for killing a Dutch journalist and 19 others during the country's independence struggle in 1999, the U.N. said in a statement.

Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes was the last person killed in a murderous rampage across the former Indonesian province in September 1999 by Battalion 745, the statement said.

The Serious Crimes Unit's indictment of Maj. Jacob Sarosa and Lt. Camilo dos Santos, both members of the battalion, marks the first time anyone has been charged in the Thoenes murder. Indonesia has argued it lacks evidence to charge anyone, despite receiving information from Dutch authorities that allegedly links the battalion to Thoenes' death.

It remains unclear, however, if the two soldiers will ever see a courtroom for Thoenes' murder. Both are on active duty with the Indonesia military, and Indonesia has so far refused to hand over eight other Indonesians charged in East Timor for 1999 war crimes.

U.N. officials said the indictment also challenges the Indonesian government's claim that its soldiers played only a minor role in the bloodshed that followed a U.N. referendum in which East Timorese voted for independence.

The U.N. has long blamed the Indonesia military and its militia proxies for the violence that left nearly 1,000 dead and forced 250,000 to flee their homes.

Battalion commander dos Santos and platoon commander Sarosa are charged with 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including Thoenes' murder.

Thoenes was forced off his motorbike and shot dead in East Timor's capital, Dili, Sept. 21, 1999. His death came soon arriving in the city to report on the arrival of an international peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops.

In Wednesday's other indictment, five members of the Mahadomi militia - including its commander and a former district chief - are charged with 13 counts of crimes against humanity.

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