Subject: AGE: Interpol joins hunt for killers

Interpol joins hunt for killers By Jill Jolliffe Dili July 8 2003

A new tactic by East Timorese prosecutors to bring war crimes suspects to trial has resulted in nine Interpol arrest warrants being issued.

Chief prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro yesterday confirmed that the international police organisation had issued red notice alerts for nine wanted men, Indonesian and Timorese. All are accused of killings during Indonesia's 1999 scorched-earth withdrawal from East Timor.

"It is the beginning of a whole new procedure," he said. "I have now signed another 43 applications for Interpol warrants."

Interpol's wanted list for crimes against humanity in East Timor is headed by Djoko Saroso, former commander of the Indonesian army's feared 745 Battalion. He is accused of command responsibility for killings in the eastern city of Lospalos and in the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes in September 1999.

The mutilated body of the Jakarta-based correspondent of the Financial Times was found in the Becorah suburb of Dili soon after 745 Battalion travelled through the area.

Since the UN set up a serious crimes unit in Dili to gather evidence against perpetrators of the 1999 violence, the taskforce has issued 170 arrest warrants for suspects now in Indonesia. But the Government of Megawati Soekarnoputri has refused to hand them over, despite an obligation to do so under a Security Council resolution.

Mr Monteiro said he was starting with the first indictments issued by the crimes unit in 2000 then working up to recent cases, which include that of Indonesia's former defence chief General Wiranto. "We will follow exactly the same procedure in his case," he said.

East Timor became a member of Interpol in February, opening the possibility of arresting the accused if they travel outside Indonesia. Police from member countries are obliged to extradite them for trial by a special court in Dili.

East Timorese leaders, including President Xanana Gusmao, distanced themselves from the prosecutions after General Wiranto's indictment but prosecutors are determined to assert their independence with continued efforts to bring the accused to justice.

Only one of the other eight wanted men is Indonesian. Rahman Zulkarnean of the elite Kopassus special forces is also accused of killings in Lospalos. The remainder are East Timorese from the paramilitary Team Alfa organisation.

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