Subject: JP: NTT police seek E. Timor militiamen case witnesses

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post September 26, 2003

Police seek Vegas case witnesses

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

Police said on Thursday that they were searching for at least three people who reportedly entered East Timor illegally along with former militiaman Vegas Bibilitu, who was shot dead in the neighboring country.

"The identities of the three people are not clear and their whereabouts remain a mystery. The police are searching for them in order to smooth the probe (into the shooting)," East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Police chief Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang said.

He said the three were wanted for questioning as witnesses concerning the killing of Vegas on Sept. 19 by East Timorese police.

Statements by the three men would help the police determine exactly what happened during the shooting, and to uncover the motive behind Vegas' and their illegal entry into East Timor, Aritonang said.

"Information from the three is badly needed by the Timor Leste police for the smooth investigation into the case," he said, referring to Indonesia's former province East Timor.

He said on Wednesday that Vegas was shot dead "not within a neutral zone but inside Timor Leste territory".

However, Aritonang said the fatal shooting was unjustifiable under Indonesian law and should not have happened to border crossers like Vegas, who was from Turiskain village in Belu regency.

"I don't know about East Timorese law, but shooting a border crosser is definitely not justifiable under Indonesian law," he said.

Aritonang urged the East Timorese police to thoroughly investigate the incident so as to appease former prointegration East Timorese people now living in Indonesia.

The NTT Police have tightened security in the border area with East Timor as former pro-Indonesia militias have condemned the shooting and demanded an inquiry into it.

However, prointegration figure Francisco Soares said on Thursday that he and his colleagues could accept Vegas' death and vowed not to take revenge against those responsible.

"We leave it all to the legal process. We want the Indonesian and East Timorese police to look into the case thoroughly," he added.

Aritonang said Vegas was killed because he had fired arrows at East Timorese police officers on patrol.

"The victim was warned about entering East Timorese territory up to 100 meters from the border, but he responded by firing arrows at the East Timorese police officers."

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