Subject: SMH: Ex-Militia Chief Run Out of Town Again

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, June 12, 2004

Ex-Militia Chief Run Out of Town Again

By Matthew Moore, Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

The notorious former East Timorese militia leader Joao Tavares has again been forced to leave a border town near his old homeland where he was living in breach of an agreement he signed with the Indonesian military, TNI.

The commander of the TNI in West Timor, Colonel Moeswarno Moesanip, said Tavares had gone from Atambua to the West Timor capital of Kupang this week and flown back to Yogyakarta ,where he promised last year to remain for two years as part of a United Nations-sponsored deal.

The former militia chief, wanted in East Timor for crimes against humanity, moved to Yogyakarta in Java last year after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees arranged for the TNI to buy his house in Atambua.

The UNHCR organised to move Tavares from the border area because they believed his presence there was disrupting efforts to deal with the problems of more than 20,000 East Timorese refugees still in West Timor, to which they fled in 1999.

The Herald visited Atambua last month and found Tavares building himself a big house there. He said his house in Yogyakarta had been attacked and said he was free to return to Timor as he had not signed an agreement promising to stay in Java.

News of his return to Atambua prompted the UNHCR's Jakarta-based representative, Robert Ashe, to raise his concerns with the military. Mr Ashe said yesterday that he had been told Tavares, now in his 70s, had returned to Yogyakarta this week and that his departure from the border would ease tensions in the sensitive area.

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