|Subject: SCU: Lolotoe Militia Commander
Sentenced To 12 Yrs
7 April 2003
SERIOUS CRIMES UNIT INFORMATION RELEASE
SCU: Investigation and Prosecution
SPECIAL PANEL JUDGES IN EAST TIMOR SENTENCE LOLOTOE MILITIA COMMANDER TO 12
YEARS FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
On 5 April 2003, the Special Panel for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court sentenced former Kaer Metin Merah Putih (KMMP) militia commander to 12 years imprisonment. Jose Cardoso Fereira (alias Mouzinho) was found guilty of crimes against humanity including murder and rape committed during 1999. This is the first time rape has been tried and convicted as a crime against humanity by the Special Panel since trials began in East Timor.
The Special Panel for Serious Crimes composed of two International Judges and one East Timorese Judge convicted Cardoso of 7 counts of crimes against humanity. The counts included 2 counts of murder, 1 count of rape, 1 count of torture, 3 count of imprisonment/severe deprivation of physical liberty and 1 count of inhumane treatment. The conviction related to a number of incidents including the murder of two pro-independence supporters and the rape of three Lolotoe women which occurred in a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population in the border area of Lolotoe sub-district in Bobonaro district between April and September 1999.
The Serious Crimes Unit Prosecutors in the Lolotoe trial, Mr. Essa Faal and Ms. Shyamala Alagendra, are of the opinion that the sentence of 12 years was fair taking into account the charges for which the accused was convicted and the factual circumstances of those charges. The SCU Prosecutors regard the Special Panel decision to convict the KMMP militia commander as an important demonstration to the victims and families of victims that commanders and perpetrators of serious human rights abuses will be brought to justice under International law before the Special Panel in Dili District Court.
The former KMMP militia commander is the third and final defendant of those accused who are present in East Timor to be convicted in the Lolotoe case. The trial began on 8 February 2002 at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court. The three defendants present in East Timor were accused of 27 counts of crimes against humanity including counts of murder, rape, torture, imprisonment/ severe deprivation of physical liberty and persecution.
On 29 October 2002, Joao Franca aka Joni Franca pleaded guilty to 5 counts of crimes against humanity including four counts of imprisonment /severe deprivation of physical liberty and one count of torture. The former Militia commander of the Kaer Metin Merah Putih, Franca was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the Judges of the Special Panel for Serious Crimes.
On 20 November 2002, Sabino Gouveia Leite -the former village head of Gouda village in Lolotoi subdistrict pleaded guilty to three counts of crimes against humanity including imprisonment /severe deprivation of physical liberty and inhumane acts. Leite was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and was released in December 2002 after serving 2/3 of the sentence.
The original indictment filed by the Deputy General Prosecutor at Dili District Court on 6 June 2001 charged five individuals with crimes against humanity. The conviction of Cardoso completes the trial of the three accused persons in East Timor. The other two accused persons remain at large in Indonesia. One of those accused, 2nd Lt. Bambang Indra (Indonesian national) was the Indonesian military commander in Lolotoe sub-district in 1999. The second accused, Fransisco Noronha, was a former nurse and intelligence officer for the Indonesian military in Lolotoe sub-district.
The Lolotoe trial is the second major crimes against humanity case to be tried at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes. In the Los Palos trial, 10 defendants were convicted of crimes against humanity. The conviction of Cardoso brings the total number of defendants to have been convicted of crimes against humanity at the Special Panel to 13 persons since trials began in early 2001.
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