Subject: AP: Prosecutors seek minimum 10-year jail for former Dili military chief

East Timor Trial Prosecutors seek minimum 10-year jail for former Dili military chief

11/11/2002 07:54:36

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Prosecutors on Monday sought the minimum 10-year jail sentence for a former Indonesian army chief officer charged with crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999.

Lt. Col. Endar Priyanto was the army chief in East Timor's capital, Dili, when pro-Indonesia militiamen attacked the house of independence leader Manuel Carrascalo. About 150 villagers had sought refuge there. Carrascalo's son and 11 others were hacked to death with machetes in the April 17 attack.

``The defendant was proven to have committed crimes against humanity and gross human rights abuse in East Timor,'' said chief prosecutor Chalere.

``He had allowed the attack to happen ... and therefore, he deserves a 10-year jail term,'' added Chalere, who uses a single name like many Indonesians.

Priyanto is one of 18 Indonesian military and police officials charged with being responsible for the violence that swept across the half-island before and after the territory broke from Indonesia.

More than 1,000 civilians were killed and 250,000 were forced to flee their homes when the army and its militia proxies rampaged after a U.N.-sponsored independence referendum that saw the territory break from Indonesia.

Under Indonesian law, prosecutors are obligated to press for a minimum jail sentence of 10 years for people accused of crimes against humanity.

The prosecution request for the shortest possible sentence underscores claims by rights activists that the trials of those responsible for violence are a sham.

Prosecutors have asked for similar sentences for all 18. So far, six of the defendants have been acquitted. Only Abilio Jose Osorio Soares, the last Indonesian governor in the province, was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison.

Priyanto's hearing will be resumed next week to hear the defendant's plea.

East Timor gained full independence in May, after a period of transitional rule by the United Nations following Indonesia's brutal 24-year occupation.

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