Subject: AFP: E. Timor jails militia commander for atrocities

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France-Presse October 30, 2002

East Timor panel jails former militia commander for 1999 atrocities

A court in East Timor has sentenced a former militia commander to five years in prison for crimes against humanity committed in 1999, the United Nations said.

The special court in Dili, capital of East Timor, on Tuesday found Joni Franca, a former commander of the Kaer Merah Muin Putih militia in Lolotoe, Bobonaro, guilty of four counts of imprisonment and one count of torture in Lolotoe between May and July 1999, a UN statement said Wednesday.

The sentence was less than the prosecution recommended but both sides have indicated they will not appeal the verdict.

Franca had originally been charged with two other crimes against humanity but they were withdrawn by the prosecution in light of his guilty pleas to the other five counts.

The 20 months Franca has already spent in pre-trial detention will be deducted from the sentence.

The panel is currently also hearing the case of two other militia members accused of crimes against humanity in Lolotoe in 1999.

Indonesia's armed forces created a number of militia groups ahead of the UN-held ballot in August 1999 which led to East Timor's separation from Indonesia after 24 years.

The militias and their military sponsors killed at least 1,000 people during 1999 and destroyed much of East Timor's infrastructure after the ballot.

East Timor became independent in May after 31 months of UN stewardship but UN personnel remain to assist the new government.

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