|Subject: SCU: Update VII/03 5 August 2003
SERIOUS CRIMES UNIT UPDATE VII/03
5 August 2003
SCU: INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION
General Information SCU Investigation and Indictment Information SCU and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) Trials at the Special Panels for Serious Crimes The Court of Appeal in TImor Leste
The Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) was established by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) following UN Security Council Resolution 1272 (1999). As mandated by the United Nations Security Council, the Serious Crimes Unit is responsible for conducting investigations and preparing indictments to assist in bringing to justice those responsible for Crimes against Humanity and other serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999.
Since Timor Leste's independence on 20 May 2002, the SCU has worked under the legal authority of the Prosecutor-General of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (RDTL). Dr. Longuinhos Monteiro is currently the Prosecutor-General. The Office of the Prosecutor-General is divided into two sections: Ordinary Crimes and the Serious Crimes Unit.
The Serious Crimes Unit is headed by the Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes who reports functionally to the Prosecutor-General and is responsible for managing the investigations and prosecutions of the SCU. Prosecutor Mr. Essa Faal is currently acting as Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes until a replacement is recruited to join the Unit.
The SCU currently has 111 staff members including 41 UN International staff including prosecutors, case managers, investigators, forensic specialists and translators as well as 19 UN Police investigators and 35 UN national staff including translators and mortuary staff. In addition, 10 East Timorese trainee prosecutors, case managers, ITU and data coding staff as well as 6 East Timorese Police investigators work in teams with International UN staff at SCU.
The SCU is divided into 4 Prosecution teams consisting of International prosecutors, case managers and investigators as well as forensic, evidence management and witness management teams. The Prosecution/investigation teams cover all 13 districts of East Timor with District investigation offices currently operating in Dili, Bobonaro, Viqueque, Aileu, Oecussi and Covalima districts.
SCU is currently investigating and prosecuting cases of Crimes against Humanity, as well as individual offences of murder, rape, torture and other serious crimes committed in East Timor between 1 January and 25 October 1999.
SCU INDICTMENT INFORMATION
Since the work of SCU began, 65 indictments have been filed with the Special Panel for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court. In the indictments, there are charges filed against 326 indictees. (301 accused persons as 25 individuals appear on more than one indictment)
The accused in the 65 indictments include 32 Indonesian TNI Military Commanders and Officers, 4 Indonesian Chiefs of Police, 49 East Timorese TNI Officers and soldiers, the former Governor of East Timor and 5 former District Administrators. More than 25% of those individuals indicted by SCU were members of the Indonesian security forces in 1999 and charged with Crimes against Humanity
At present, 221 of those 301 accused persons (over 70%) indicted by SCU remain at large in the Republic of Indonesia.
10 Priority Cases and Additional Cases of Crimes against Humanity
The Maliana indictment (see below) completes the 10 Priority Cases of Crimes Against Humanity which were initially identified by SCU in 2000 during the UNTAET period. The 10 Priority cases include the Liquica church attack, the attack on the house of Manuel Carrascalao, the Suai Church massacre, the September attack on the compound of Bishop Belo, the Cailaco killings, and the TNI Battallion 745 kilings. A total of 183 accused persons are charged for Crimes against Humanity in the 10 Priority case indictments. At present, 168 of those 183 persons charged in the 10 priority case indictments remain at large in Indonesia.
On 24 February 2003, SCU issued the National indictment charging the former Indonesian Minister of Defence and Commander of the Armed Forces, 6 high-ranking Indonesian Military Commanders and the former Governor of Timor Leste with Crimes against Humanity for murder, deportation and persecution during 1999.
To date, 40 of the 65 indictments filed charge for Crimes against Humanity against 298 indictees (273 accused persons). These indictments include Crimes against Humanity cases such as the Atabae rape cases, the Maliana UNAMET killings, the killing of the Liurai King of Los Palos, the Mahidi militia indictment and an indictment issued on 9 April 2003 which charged 5 East Timorese TNI soldiers with rape as a Crime against Humanity.
The Maliana indictment
On 10 July 2003, the Acting Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes issued the Maliana Indictment which charges a total of 57 individuals with Crimes against Humanity including murder, attempted murder, torture and persecution committed against the civilian population of Bobonaro District between May and September 1999. The Maliana indictment includes charges for the coordinated TNI-militia attack on Maliana Police Station which resulted in the killing of more than 13 civilians on 8 September 1999 and the killing of a group of 13 escapees from the Police station attack.
The accused in the Maliana indictment include 4 Indonesian military (TNI) officers, one Special Forces Intelligence (SGI) member, and 12 East Timorese TNI non-commissioned officers. The indictment also charges Joao Da Silva Tavares -the former Commander of the East Timor militia forces, the former Indonesian District Police Chief and the former District Administrator in Bobonaro district, and more than 30 Dadurus Merah Putih militia members. All of the 57 accused persons charged in the indictment are believed to be at large in the Republic of Indonesia. Arrest Warrants will be forwarded to the Attorney General of the Republic of Indonesia and to the Interpol organisation.
Aileu and Oecussi Crimes against Humanity indictments
On 10 July 2003, the Acting Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes filed two indictments charging five persons for alleged Crimes against Humanity committed in Aileu and Oecussi districts in September 1999. The accused are believed to be at large in the Republic of Indonesia The Aileu indictment specifically charges TNI Sergeant Domingos Alberto Carlos and AHI militia members Carlos Jose and Almeida Martins with murder as Crimes against Humanity in relation to alleged killings committed on 6 September 1999 in Aileu district. The Oecussi indictment charges former Sakunar militia members Liberatus Mauno and Alexio Sepa with Crimes against Humanity which include four murders and other inhumane acts committed in Oecussi District in September 1999.
SCU and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR)
The CAVR takes statements from deponents across the districts of Timor Leste to determine whether those deponents are suitable candidates for the Community Reconciliation process. SCU examines the statements received from the CAVR against its database of suspects who are believed to have participated in serious crimes in 1999. Over 760 deponent statements have been received from the CAVR to date; of these the SCU has exercised its exclusive jurisdiction in 51 cases.
SCU Prosecutors Sworn-in to appear at the Special Panels
On 7 July 2003, the Prosecutor General of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste Dr.Longuinhos Monteiro presided over the swearing-in ceremony of three International prosecutors which will allow them to prosecute cases before the Special Panels for Serious Crimes of Dili District Court in Timor Leste. At the ceremony, the Prosecutor General said that the prosecution of further trials at the Special Panels will be important to Timor Leste as the trials represent an historical record of what actually occurred in Timor Leste in 1999. Dr Monteiro also commented that the prospect of more trials will help some families of victims and their communities come to terms with their losses knowing that perpetrators have been brought to justice.
This the first time that Prosecutors from the Serious Crimes Unit have been formally sworn-in to appear at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes since Timor Leste gained independence on 20 May 2002. With the prospect of more trials scheduled to commence at the Special Panels, the swearing-in of the Prosecutors will enable all six of the International prosecutors presently working at the Serious Crimes Unit to prosecute cases of Crimes against Humanity and Serious Crimes committed in 1999. At present there are more than 35 indicted persons awaiting trial in Timor Leste with many others under investigation.
TRIALS AT THE SPECIAL PANELS FOR SERIOUS CRIMES
In 2000, UNTAET set up Special Panels of Judges at Dili District Court to hear cases of Crimes against Humanity and serious crimes from the 1999 period. The Special Panels for Serious Crimes are comprised of two International Judges and one East Timorese Judge to hear cases of Crimes against Humanity and serious crimes from the 1999 period.
Since trials began in 2001, there have been 34 convictions at the Special Panels for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court.. Those convicted in such trials as the Los Palos trial and the Lolotoe trial include East Timorese TNI soldiers, East Timorese militia members and an East Timorese Falintil resistance fighter
Special Panel Convictions of two Tim Sasarat Ablai Militia Commanders On 16 July 2003, the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Dili District Court convicted Benjamin Sarmento and Romeiro Tilman of Crimes Against Humanity for murder and deportation committed in Same sub-district in Manufahi district between April and September 1999. Sarmento, the former Deputy Commander of the Tim Sasarat Ablai militia group in Same subdistrict pleaded guilty to the killing of 5 independence supporters in four separate incidents in Same sub-district between April and September 1999 and received a 12 year prison sentence. Tilman, the former third-in-command of the Tim Sasurat Ablai militia group, pleaded guilty to one count of Crimes against Humanity (murder) for ordering the killing of two independence supporters on 30 August 1999 in Datina village, Same subdistrict and was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Ongoing Trials at the Special Panels
The trial of Tim Sasurat Ablai militia members Joao Sarmento and Domingos Mendonca began on 2 July 2003 and continues at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes. The two defendants charged with Crimes Against Humanity for murder, persecution and deportation remain on trial following the guilty pleas of two Ablai commanders who were convicted on 16 July 2003 (see above). On 4 August 2003, Joao Sarmento pleaded guilty to two counts of murder as Crimes against Humanity and forced deportation. A final decision from the Special Panel of Judges is expected in the near future.
The trial of Florencio Takaqui from Oecussi district began on 11 July 2003 and is scheduled to continue on 18 August 2003. The former Sakunar militia member is charged with Crimes against Humanity including murder and extermination in relation to the alleged killing of more than 47 men in Passabe subdistrict massacre on 10 September 1999. Of the 11 persons charged for the Passabe massacre indictment, Takaqui is the only accused present in Timor Leste with the remaining 10 accused including TNI Sergeants soldiers and Sakunar militia commanders believed to be at large in Indonesia.
The trial of Paulino de Jesus began on 4 August 2003 before the Special Panels of Judges at Dili District Court. The former TNI soldier is charged with the murder of Lucinda Saldanha and attempted murder in Lourba village in Bobonaro district on 10 September 1999.
Forthcoming Trials at the Special Panels
The trial of Marcelino Soares is scheduled to commence on 7 August 2003. The former TNI Village Commander in Hera village in Dili is charged with three counts of Crimes against Humanity: murder, torture and persecution by unlawful detention. The indictment charges include the torture of independence supporters and the killing of Luis Dias Soares on 20 April 1999 in Hera village, Dili.
The trial of Gilberto Fernandes, Jose da Costa and Inacio Olivera is scheduled to begin on 22 September 2003. The former Tim Saka members are charged with Crimes against Humanity for the murder of Verissimo Dias Quintas, the Liurai (local King) of Los Palos on 27 August 1999. Of the 12 persons charged with the killing only three accused above are currently in Timor Leste, the other accused persons including two Indonesian TNI officers and the former District Adminstrator of Lautem remain at large in Indonesia.
The trial of Damaio Da Costa Nunes aka Damianus has been postponed and is scheduled to commence on 22 September 2003. The former Laksaur militia platoon commander is charged with three counts of Crimes against Humanity for the murders of three independence supporters namely Jaime Da Costa Nunes, Albino Nahak and Jose Dos Reis in separate incidents in August and September 1999 in Covalima district.
THE COURT OF APPEAL
On 1 July 2003, the Court of Appeal in Timor Leste recommenced hearing appeals from all Courts in Timor Leste including the Special Panels for Serious Crimes. The first Special Panel case to be heard by the Court of Appeal was in relation to the Special Panel decision in the case of Armando dos Santos. The Besi Merah Putih militia member had been convicted in September 2002 by the Special Panel of three counts of murder which included April 1999 killings at Liquica church and the house of Manuel Carrascalao. The Special Panel decision was appealed by the Deputy Prosecutor General for Serious Crimes on the basis that the defendant should have been convicted of murder as Crimes against Humanity as charged.
On 15 July 2003, the Court of Appeal decided in the Armando dos Santos case that the subsidiary applicable law in Timor Leste is Portuguese law rather than Indonesian law. Consequently, Armando dos Santos was convicted of genocide by the Court of Appeal under Portuguese law rather than Crimes against Humanity as charged by the Deputy Prosecutor General for Serious Crimes. The Court of Appeal also ruled to increase his sentence from 20 years to 22 years. On 18 July 2003, the Court of Appeal made two further decisions on appeals in relation to Special Panels decisions using Portuguese law.
In response to these three decisions of the Court of Appeal, on 23 July 2003 the Prosecutor General filed an application with the Supreme Court of Justice in Timor Leste requesting a declaration on the issue of subsidiary applicable law in Timor Leste. The position of the Prosecutor General is that under UNTAET regulations and the Constitution of Timor Leste, Indonesian law is the subsidiary applicable law in Timor Leste. The Prosecutor General hopes that the Supreme Court of Justice will hear the case expeditiously in order to resolve the issue of applicable law in Timor Leste with judicial finality.
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