Subject: Dili mob raids office holding evidence of '99 massacres

Also: 'Serious Crimes' data base 'disappeared' in looting - AG Monteiro; Serious Crimes Unit office looted in Dili

Mob raids office holding evidence of massacres in East Timor

DILI, May 30 (AP): A mob armed with machetes looted East Timor's attorney general's office on Tuesday, including an area where evidence of 1999 massacres linked to the country's breakaway from Indonesia were kept.

Looters smashed windows and locks to break into the Serious Crimes Unit at the attorney general's office, staff member Abilio Reis said.

Evidence of alleged massacres committed in 1999 by militias allied with Indonesia, the country's former ruler, was strewn over the floor. The mob had entered several other offices in the building, and looted computers and other valuable items.

"I was afraid. I tried to stop the looting, but couldn't," Reis said. UN security guards had fled the scene, he said.

It didn't appear as if the attackers were deliberately trying to destroy documents related to the earlier violence, which have never been publicly released and remain a symbol of the traumatic period.

Up to 1,500 people died at the hands of the Indonesian military and pro-Jakarta militias after East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence.

Dozens of low-level militiamen have been jailed in East Timor, but most of the leaders fled into exile and now live freely in Indonesia. East Timor's government has soft-peddled its demands for justice, saying it is more interested in reconciliation withits giant neighbor.

Fighting broke out in several other areas of the capital on Tuesday and scattered arson and looting continued despite the presence of more than 1,300 foreign peacekeepers in the city.

Ambulances were seen ferrying injured people to a hospital, but it was not immediately clear how many had been hurt.

At a warehouse being used as a food distribution center, scuffles broke out as thousands of residents -- many of whom fled their homes to escape the violence in the smoldering capital -- pushed and struggled to get bags of rice.

Australian troops struggled to keep order.

The capital appeared more tense than on Monday, when foreign peacekeepers made a show of force, throwing machete-wielding youths to the ground and handcuffing them as residents looked on. But the foreigners have no arrest powers and the detainees were soon freed.

Political leaders held a second day of meetings Tuesday to try to defuse the crisis. Heavily armed Australian and East Timorese troops guarded the palace, where anti-government protesters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and helicopters and armored personnel carriers patrolled nearby.

On Monday, President Xanana Gusmao, who wields enormous status as the hero of East Timor's independence, told a crowd to be patient and promised a solution would be soon be found.

Alkatiri has become a figure of blame for the crisis, which started last week with sporadic clashes between former soldiers and government troops and spiraled into open gang warfare, looting and burning. At least 27 people have been killed and 100 wounded in the past week.

The unrest was triggered by the March firing of 600disgruntled soldiers from the 1,400-member army, who rioted last month before fleeing to set up positions in the hills surrounding the seaside capital.

Much of the antagonism on the streets revolves around accusations, often unfounded, that one person or another harbors sympathies for Indonesia, which pulled out of East Timor in 1999 after a 24 years of often harsh rule.

Maj. Agosto De Araujo, one of the rebel leaders, said they had offered to joining peace talks.

In addition to Australians, peacekeepers from Malaysia, New Zealand and former colonial master Portugal started arriving last week in the tiny nation of around 1 million people.


East Timor: 'Serious Crimes' data base 'disappeared' in looting - AG Monteiro

Dili, May 30 (Lusa) - An armed mob ransacked East Timor's Attorney General's offices Tuesday, stealing or destroying hundreds of computers and records of ongoing investigations, including the data base of investigations into crimes against humanity committed by Indonesian forces in 1999.

"They destroyed many (judicial) processes, the most important of which our data base which disappeared", Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro told Lusa by telephone.

Monteiro said he had personally tried, but failed, to dissuade dozens of youths, armed with machetes and knives, to stop the looting spree at his offices.

He blamed the United Nations and Australian and US officials for not having assured security for his offices.

"For the past several days I have been urging the UN and the Australian and US embassies - the two countries that spent most money on the Serious Crimes process - but no one sent security forces", Monteiro said.

"I did my best to stop more thefts (of document and equipment), but alone I couldn't do anything", he said, adding that "the international staff that had been here had been withdrawn from the country".

Monteiro said it was "impossible" to determine whether the mob was simply bent on looting or had calculated targeted key investigation records.


ABC Last Update: Wednesday, May 31, 2006. 7:03pm (AEST)

Serious Crimes Unit office looted in Dili

While it was quieter in Dili today, a looting incident yesterday could derail plans to bring to justice those Indonesian soldiers who were involved in the pre-independence violence of 1999.

Several looters broke in to the offices of the Serious Crimes Unit and ransacked evidence against scores of Indonesian army officers who have been accused of crimes against humanity.

The looters stole 138 computers, which stored key evidence against scores of Indonesian soldiers, 79 cases of which are still outstanding.

The file of Indonesia's former defence force chief, General Wiranto, was one of those ransacked and looters also broke into a forensic office which stored some grisly evidence of the massacres.

East Timor's top prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro says the backup database may be able to be restored, but the original documents will be much more difficult to recover.

He says 99 per cent of the 1999 files are damaged or missing.

"It doesn't matter that we can recover a backup or we can try to make some approachment to recover it, but I think this is difficult, very difficult, on this state because [there is] no law and order now in this country," he said.

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