Subject: AAP: First TNI soldier convicted of crimes in Timor
December 10, 2003, Wednesday
ASIA: First TNI soldier convicted of crimes in Timor
By Rob Taylor, South-East Asia Correspondent
JAKARTA, Dec 10
An East Timorese human rights crimes court today sentenced a former member of Indonesia's military to 11 years in jail for murder and torture committed during the wave of violence which followed the country's 1999 independence vote.
Former Indonesian army (TNI) Head Sergeant Marcelino Soares (Marcelino Soares) was found guilty of murdering Luis Dias Soares, who was beaten to death at an army post on Dili's outskirts on April 20, 1999.
United Nations-funded prosecutors from the Serious Crimes Unit in Dili found Soares, an East Timorese member of the TNI, also tortured Luis Dias Soares (Luis Dias Soares) and two other pro-independence supporters.
One of the men was held captive and beaten for four days before he was released.
The sentence was the first imposed on a TNI member since the trials in East Timor began.
He is also the first soldier to be jailed for the killings in East Timor.
Indonesia set up its own court to try offenders but rights groups described it as a sham.
Including trials in Indonesia, the decision in East Timor today brought to three the number of TNI soldiers who have been convicted, although the other two along with more senior military commanders, including former armed forces chief Wiranto, remain free.
Wiranto, who is being touted as a possible presidential candidate in next year's Indonesian elections, earlier this year strongly denied allegations of crimes against humanity lodged in an indictment by prosecutors in Dili.
He said he had not planned any of the killings, torture and kidnapping that occurred in East Timor when it voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999.
The Dili court today also jailed a former militiaman for 10 years for his role in two murders in the Covalima district in August and September 1999.
Damiao da Costa Nunes (Damiao da Costa Nunes), a former Laksaur militia member, was found guilty of murder for his part in the stabbing of independence supporter Jaime Da Costa Nunes (Jaime Da Costa Nunes) in Mota Ulun Village on August 27, 1999.
He was also found guilty of killing another man, Jose Dos Reis, by stabbing him in the chest on September 7, 1999, and of having a role in the abduction and disappearance of Albino Nahak the day before.
The East Timor special court has convicted 43 people since 1999 and acquitted one.
The militias - organised and armed by the Indonesian military - waged a savage intimidation campaign before the referendum and a revenge campaign afterwards.
An estimated 1,000 people were killed and whole towns were razed.
Prosecutor Per Halsbog said the conviction of Marcelino Soares would help victims and their families get over their losses "in the knowledge that some measure of justice has been achieved".