Subject: NZPA: Latest arrest no surprise, says father of murdered soldier

NZ Herald website

Latest arrest no surprise, says father of murdered soldier

04.02.2003 9.00am

The father of New Zealand soldier Leonard Manning, murdered while serving with the United Nations in East Timor, said today the latest arrest in the hunt for his son's killers was no surprise.

Charlie Manning, from Putaruru, south Waikato, said the first he knew about the arrest of Gabriel Moruk, 37, was when he read it in a newspaper today.

Moruk was arrested about two weeks ago and was now being questioned in Belu district and would be brought to court in the town of Atambua in West Timor, Indonesian police said yesterday.

"I'm not surprised that there's been an arrest," Mr Manning told NZPA today.

"It was always thought there was more than one person involved (in the killing)."

Moruk was allegedly one of five people who sneaked into East Timor and killed Private Manning, 24, who was with a UN peacekeeping force, in a forest on July 24, 2000.

One of the five, Yacobus Bere, is serving a six-year jail sentence imposed by a court in Jakarta. Three others were acquitted.

Moruk has admitted taking part in the murder, a police spokesman said.

The arrest followed a tip-off from local residents. A rifle and hand grenades were found at Moruk's hiding place in a forest near the East/West Timor border.

Moruk reportedly told police the five people had infiltrated East Timor to attack a UN security post on the orders of a former East Timorese militia leader living in exile in Belu province, the Gatra weekly magazine has reported.

Pro-Jakarta East Timorese militiamen launched a campaign of intimidation before the territory's vote in August 1999 to break away from Indonesia, and a revenge campaign afterwards.

Thousands of militiamen fled to West Timor following the arrival of international peacekeepers in East Timor in September 1999.

The territory finally became independent last May after 31 months of United Nations stewardship.

A New Zealand Defence Force spokesman said yesterday: "Hopefully once the courts have followed due process this will now bring full closure to this incident that resulted in the death of Private Leonard Manning."

- NZPA


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