Subject: LUSA: Jailed ex-governor a scapegoat for Jakarta generals - Dili official

East Timor: Jailed ex-governor a scapegoat for Jakarta generals - Dili official

Macau, July 19, (Lusa) - Dili's interior minister has said Jakarta's imprisonment of East Timor's last Indonesian governor for atrocities committed in 1999 was no more than a cover-up "maneuver" aimed to spare the former occupier's military brass from facing justice.

Describing the former governor, Abílio Osório Soares, who began a three-year prison sentence Saturday, as a scapegoat "victim", Internal Administration Minister Rogério Lobato told reporters in Macau Sunday that Indonesian generals were those truly responsible for the pre-independence wave of killings and destruction.

Soares had been Jakarta's last governor in the territory, Lobato said during the final Macau leg of a visit to China, "but those effectively in command were Indonesian generals, and they were truly the great motivators of the attacks and devastation" in East Timor.

Soares, a native of East Timor, entered Jakarta's Cipinang Prison Saturday afternoon, one day behind schedule, after losing a court appeal.

The first Indonesian official condemned by a Jakarta court for crimes against humanity in East Timor had earlier told an Indonesian newspaper he would not report to prison Friday voluntarily, insisting on his innocence and blaming the Indonesian military for the atrocities.

Soares, who had lived in the West Timor capital of Kupang while awaiting an appeals court ruling on his sentencing in 2002, had been scheduled to begin his three-year sentence on Friday.

Soares is one of six Indonesian officials, military officers and militia chiefs given light sentences by a special Jakarta human rights court for atrocities committed against East Timorese around the time of their August 1999 UN-sponsored independence plebiscite.

The five others, including notorious militia boss Eurico Guterres, remain free pending appeals.

Indonesia's scorched-earth campaign in 1999, mainly carried out by proxy militia gangs, left some 1,500 Timorese dead, destroyed more than 70 percent of the country's infrastructure and forced some 250,000 people to flee their homes.


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