Subject: AU: Eurico Guterres's return to E Timor

THE AUSTRALIAN

December 30, 2005 Friday

Guterres's return to E Timor

Mark Dodd

NOTORIOUS former East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres is to return home with a personal guarantee for his safety by the country's President, despite a UN war crimes panel indicting him for murders committed in 1999.

East Timor resistance hero turned President Xanana Gusmao invited Guterres to return during a visit to Kupang, the provincial capital of Indonesian West Timor.

On April 17, 1999, Guterres, a former commander of the Dili-based Aitarak (Thorn) militia, ordered scores of armed followers to attack the Dili house of pro-independence leader Manuel Carrascalao -- an assault that led to the death of 12 unarmed people, including Mr Carrascalao's son Manuelito.

More than 1500 pro-independence Timorese died in the bloody mayhem that followed the UN-brokered independence ballot later that year.

Guterres and his followers slipped across the border into West Timor days before the arrival of an Australia-led peacekeeping force.

In his first-ever meeting with Mr Gusmao, a former rival Falintil guerilla commander, he promised to work towards reconciliation, saying he would bring with him 26 other former militia leaders when he returned home next month.

But East Timor's main human rights body, Yayasan-HAK, says it is horrified at the prospect of Guterres returning to Dili.

HAK spokesman Jose Oliveira feared that once news began to circulate about the decision it could lead to violence from angry Aitarak victims.

''This decision is very bad for East Timor and will make many common people angry because they have no justice,'' he said.

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December 30, 2005

LENGTH: 366 words

HEADLINE: EAST TIMOR: GUTERRES ALLOWED TO RETURN

DATELINE: SYDNEY

BODY: (ANSA) - SYDNEY, December 30 - East Timor resistance hero turned president Xanana Gusmao allowed the return to the country of notorious former East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres despite a UN war crimes panel indicting him for murders committed in 1999.

In their first-ever meeting, Gusmao invited Guterres to return next month and bring along with him 26 former militia leaders, daily The Australian reported. Gusmao invited Guterres to return during a visit to Kupang, the provincial capital of Indonesian West Timor, the paper added.

In April 1999 Guterres, former commander of the Dili-based Aitarak (Thorn) militia, ordered scores of armed followers to attack the Dili house of pro-independence leader Manuel Carrascalao - an assault that led to the death of 12 unarmed people, including Carrascalao's son Manuelito. More than 1,500 pro-independence Timorese died in the bloody mayhem that followed the UN-brokered independence ballot later that year.

Guterres and his followers slipped across the border into West Timor days before the arrival of an Australia-led peacekeeping force, The Australian said.

However, East Timor's main human rights body, Yayasan-HAK, said it was horrified at the prospect of Guterres returning to Dili. Body spokesman Jose Oliveira feared that once news began to circulate about the decision it could lead to violence from angry Aitarak victims.

West Timor is a former Dutch colony which became part of Indonesia immediately after World War II while East Timor remained for 400 years a Portuguese colony until 1975.

The Portuguese colony of Timor declared itself independent from Portugal in late November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of East Timor.

In August 1999 the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-supervised referendum. In May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognised as an independent state and the world's newest democracy.

(ANSA)

krc


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