Subject: AFP: East Timor's last Indonesian governor to begin jail term for atrocities

Also: Ex-governor Abilio Soares escapes jail for now

East Timor's last Indonesian governor to begin jail term for atrocities

JAKARTA: East Timor's last Indonesian governor has flown to Jakarta to begin a three-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity during the territory's bloody 1999 breakaway from Indonesia.

Barring any unexpected delay, Abilio Soares will become the first person convicted by a Jakarta human rights court to serve time for abuses connected with East Timor's bloody 1999 split from Indonesia.

Soares left his home in the West Timor capital Kupang early Saturday and would be immediately taken to Cipinang prison upon arrival in the capital, said Kiemas Yahya Rahman, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Of six people sentenced to jail by an Indonesian human rights court last year, none has been put behind bars.

Three army officers, a former Dili police chief and a militia leader remain free pending appeals.

The Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal by Soares but his lawyer said he had filed for another judicial review of the sentence at his client's request.

Soares, who has previously complained he is being made a scapegoat, said Friday the allegations against him were not true and his trial was "engineered."

The human rights court acquitted 11 security force members and one civilian over the Indonesian army-backed militia violence against East Timorese independence supporters, which killed at least 1,400 people.

Both the United States and the European Union said the Jakarta trials had failed to achieve justice.

Soares was supposed to have started his sentence on Friday but his journey to Jakarta was delayed.



Jakarta Post

July 17, 2004

Ex-governor Abilio Soares escapes jail for now

Yemris Fointuna and Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta/Kupang

Convicted former East Timor governor Abilio Soares defied a summons on Friday to begin serving his three-year jail term for human rights crimes in Indonesia's former province in 1999.

Speaking at his home in the East Nusa Tenggara capital of Kupang, Abilio said he could not be sent to prison immediately as he was seeking a Supreme Court review of his conviction.

"How was an order to make me start serving my sentence issued while my application for a a review has not yet been responded to?" he told journalists.

The ex-governor should have been flown by prosecutors to Jakarta from Kupang on Friday to start serving his jail term in Cipinang prison.

"I have decided to stay in Kupang as I'm a resident of East Nusa Tenggara. I have no intention to evade the execution. I have left all the legal aspects up to my lawyers, but I will never go to jail because of military wrongdoings in East Timor," he asserted.

Abilio blasted his trial as unfair, saying he was made a scapegoat to save others from punishment by the ad hoc human rights court.

As the civilian governor of East Timor, he said, he should not have been convicted by the court as he had no say about security issues in the country's former province, which was then under martial law.

"How can it happen that I, a civilian who did not have any weapons, will be sent to prison because of what the armed forces did?" Abilio asked.

The former East Timor military and police chiefs should be convicted for permitting the carnage and destruction that occurred when the province voted for independence in 1999, he insisted.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) issued a summons for Abilio to appear in Jakarta by 2 p.m. at the latest, and the East Nusa Tenggara Prosecutor's Office deputy chief Bachtiar Robin Pangaribuan came to his home on Friday morning to pick him up.

But Abilio refused to leave for Jakarta and instead sent his lawyer, O.C.Kaligis, to present a letter to the AGO asking for a delay in the execution of the sentence.

"We are in the process of seeking a review. However, it is true that there is no way for him to avoid the Supreme Court's rejection of his appeal," Kaligis told The Jakarta Post.

Under the prevailing law, a convicted person must start serving his sentence after the Supreme Court turns down his appeal, even if he files a request for a review.

Those on death row, however, have their executions stayed until their reviews have been heard.

In Jakarta, an AGO spokesman said his office would issue a second summons for Abilio next week. "Should he defy it again, we will arrest him and forcibly bring him here to start serving his jail term," Kemas asserted.

He said the prosecutors would give Abilio another week, but stressed that it would be better for him to show up in Jakarta earlier.

Abilio was sentenced to three years by the ad hoc human rights tribunal in 2002 for failing to control his subordinates, a dereliction of duty that the court said led to the deaths of 22 civilians during an incident at a Liquisa church in 1999.

His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The former governor has said that if his application for a review is rejected, he will seek justice before an "international court".

Abilio also claimed that he had received the support of East Timor President Xanana Gusmao and 25 members of the parliament there, who all said the former governor was not guilty of crimes against humanity.

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