Subject: E.Timor File More Human Rights Charges Over '99 Atrocities

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse February 28, 2003

East Timor indicts former police chief, others, over 1999 atrocities

DILI - Prosecutors in East Timor on Friday indicted the territory's former police chief and three ex-militia leaders for crimes against humanity during the territory's bloody breakaway from Indonesia in 1999.

Former police chief Timbul Silaen, who has been cleared by Indonesia's human rights court in Jakarta, is charged over attacks on Bishop Belo's residence and the Dili diocese in early September that year in which at least 17 people died.

Also charged in three separate indictments are Eurico Guterres, commander of the feared Aitarak militia, Egidio Manek, deputy commander of the Laksaur militia, and Cancio Lopes de Carvalho, head of the Mahidi militia.

Indonesia's rights court has ordered Guterres jailed for 10 years but he remains free pending an appeal.

The prosecutors in East Timor's Serious Crimes Unit are funded by the United Nations but work under the authority of the new nation.

On Monday they had indicted Indonesia's former defence minister and military chief, Wiranto, six other senior Indonesian officers and the then-governor for murder, deportation and persecution of independence supporters.

Indonesia has played down those indictments.

"I don't think (there will be any serious repercussion) from the indictments because explanations given to us by the East Timor government suggested that the indictments were only a legal recommendation," Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said on Friday.

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta is due to visit Jakarta on Monday and will hold talks with Wirayuda, his personal secretary told AFP.

One of Friday's indictments says Indonesian troops and pro-Jakarta militiamen attacked civilians seeking refuge at the Dili diocese.

The following day soldiers, police and militia attacked the residence of Bishop Belo, according to a statement from the Serious Crimes Unit.

"Over 5,000 refugees seeking shelter inside Bishop Belo's residence were forcibly evacuated and deported from East Timor by TNI (Indonesian) soldiers, police officers and militia."

Silaen, Guterres and other militia members are charged with the forced deportation of civilians from Dili into Indonesian West Timor between September 5 and 9, 1999.

Another indictment charges 14 Laksaur militiamen including Manek with 51 counts of crimes against humanity "including extermination, murder, enforced disappearance, rape, torture, inhumane acts, deportation and persecution" of civilians in Covalima district between January and December 1999.

A third indictment charges 22 Mahidi militia members including Carvalho with similar crimes.

Prosecutors said all the accused are believed to be in Indonesia and arrest warrants had been sought from the Dili court. These would be forwarded to Indonesia and Interpol.

So far the Serious Crimes Unit has filed 58 indictments charging a total of 225 people. None of the Indonesians has been handed over.

Pro-Jakarta local militias launched a savage intimidation campaign against East Timorese before their August 1999 vote for independence, and a campaign of revenge and forced deportation afterwards.

The widely-criticised Indonesian rights court has accused defendants only of failing to prevent violence. Prosecutors in Dili say top Indonesian officials actually formed, funded and directed the militias.

Indonesia's rights court meanwhile postponed till Wednesday a verdict in the case of former East Timor military commander Noer Muis, one of those indicted by Dili prosecutors along with Wiranto.

vt/sm/rcw


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