Subject: E. Timor Court Jails Two Ex-Militia Leaders Over Murders

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

also: East Timor court jails two ex-militia leaders

Two Ex-Militia Leaders Jailed Over East Timor Murders

DILI, July 16 (AP)--An East Timorese court Wednesday sentenced two pro-Indonesian militia leaders to eight and 12 years in prison for murdering five independence supporters during the country's bloody break from Jakarta rule in 1999.

The convictions bring to 34 the number of people - most of them militiamen - brought to justice in East Timor over the violence that accompanied the United Nations-supervised independence ballot.

Benjamin Sarmento was convicted of four counts of murder, and was sentenced to 12 years, while Romeiro Tilman was found guilty on one count. He received eight years.

Earlier sessions of the court had heard that all the victims were known independence supporters and that the murders took place in central East Timor between April and September 1999.

It was not immediately clear whether the two men would appeal.

Violence surrounding the U.N.-sponsored independence vote left up to 1,500 East Timorese dead and most of the country's infrastructure destroyed.

Witnesses said Indonesia's military and local government organized much of bloodshed through militia proxies it created to intimidate independence supporters.

Under international pressure to punish those responsible for the violence, Indonesia last year agreed to try 18 senior police and military officials in a special human rights tribunal.

However, the court in Jakarta has so far acquitted 12 suspects and convicted five - all of whom are free pending appeals - leading to charges by human rights activists that the trials were a sham.

-Edited by Karen K. Lane


East Timor court jails two ex-militia leaders

DILI, July 16 (AFP) : An East Timor court on Wednesday jailed two former militia leaders for crimes against humanity during the territory's bloody breakaway from Indonesia in 1999.

The Special Panel for Serious Crimes jailed Benjamin Sarmento for 12 years and Romeriro Tilman for eight, the United Nations-funded Serious Crimes Unit said in a statement.

The two former leaders of the pro-Indonesia Tim Sasurat Ablai militia were arrested along with several other former militiamen who had infiltrated East Timor from Indonesian West Timor in September 2000.

Sarmento was convicted on five counts of crimes against humanity.

He had admitted killing five independence supporters in four separate incidents in Same district in 1999.

Tilman, convicted of two counts of crime against humanity, had pleaded guilty to ordering the killing of two independence supporters in the same area.

The two also admitted forced transportation of civilians from villages in Same to West Timor after East Timor voted overwhelmingly in August 1999 to break from Indonesia.

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