Subject: Former E Timor militia leader Eurico Guterres to stand in Indon elections

also Former E Timor militia leader to stand in Indon elections; Former East Timor Militias Support Eurico for House of Representatives

Indonesia frees militia leader

Hours after being released early from a Jakarta prison, a former East Timorese militia leader has announced plans to run for parliament.

Eurico Guterres's release late on Monday, after an acquittal, has raised questions over Indonesia's legal system.

Guterres was sentenced to 10 years in prison over deadly violence following East Timor's 1999 UN-backed independence vote, but served less than two years before Indonesia's Supreme Court acquitted him of crimes against humanity.

He was the only person jailed for the post-election violence in the territory, blamed largely on militia backed by elements of the Indonesian army.

According to investigators he directly ordered attacks against the East Timorese population.

A special tribunal in Jakarta found him guilty of human rights violations but on Friday the court acquitted him, citing a lack of evidence

Election candidate

On Tuesday, the National Mandate party named him as its candidate for West Timor in next April's elections.

Human rights groups have criticised Indonesia's efforts to bring those responsible for the bloodshed in East Timor to justice.

Asmara Nababan, a human rights investigator who was part of a team that looked into the violence in East Timor, said the acquittal showed a lack of justice in Indonesia.

"This is high time for international community to look at the recommendations of the team of experts set up by secretary-general to have an international tribunal," he said.

Seventeen other men who were indicted by Jakarta prosecutors, were also acquitted and set free.

Indonesian nationalist

Before his release, Guterres received journalists in prison where he portrayed himself as an Indonesian nationalist.

Supporters hail him for fighting for Indonesian unity and blame the international community for his imprisonment.

Calling himself "a true child of Indonesia", Guterres said he did not mind if the case was brought before an international court, but urged everyone to respect Indonesian law.

The United Nations estimates about 1,000 people were killed in the 1999 violence but Indonesian officials say only about 100 people died.

A truth commission set up by the two countries in 2005 is still investigating the bloody events but it does not have any power to prosecute, and rights activists say it only serves to whitewash the crimes.

Critics say the chances of an international court hearing are slim because tiny East Timor, which Indonesia annexed and ruled for 24 years, wants to keep the peace with its much bigger and more powerful neighbour.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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BBC

E Timor militia leader released

The only pro-Indonesia militia leader to be convicted over the violence which engulfed East Timor in 1999 has been freed from jail.

Eurico Guterres had been sentenced to 10 years for his role in the killings of 12 people as East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia.

But judges in the Indonesia capital Jakarta overturned his conviction and freed him after two years in jail.

Over 1,000 people are thought to have died in violence sparked by the vote.

Much of the unrest was blamed on militias backed by the Indonesian army.

The former Portuguese colony eventually voted for independence after 25 years of rule from Jakarta.

Troubled past

Mr Guterres said what he had done during the independence referendum was simply to fight for his political views - something that did not amount to human rights violations.

"The excesses of our struggle were not something we wanted, but something we couldn't avoid," he said.

He was originally found guilty of leading an attack on a group of people sheltering from the referendum violence.

But late last week the Supreme Court found that he was not proven to have had full command over the attack, and therefore could not be held criminally responsible.

Human rights groups in Indonesia have said the verdict shows the courts' lack of commitment in dealing with past abuses.

More than a dozen other men who had been indicted over the violence have also been acquitted.

The United Nations estimates about 1,000 people were killed in the violence, but Indonesian officials put the figure at about 100.

A truth commission set up by the two countries in 2005 is investigating the events but it does not have any power to prosecute, and rights activists say it serves only to whitewash the crimes.

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Former East Timor Militias Support Eurico for House of Representatives

Wednesday, 09 April, 2008 | 16:21 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Kupang: Former East Timor militias for integration support Eurico Gutteres for becoming a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) from the National Mandate Party (PAN) in the 2009 legislative election.

Former commander of the Aitarak militia, Dominggus Pareira (Ompong) said that they support Eurico for no one in the House is fighting for the life of the community. "He (Eurico) is our leader," said Dominggus.

He said, former militias and members of the community are happy for the supreme court's decision to release Eurico. "I and the other 500 supporters will go to Kupang to welcome Eurico at the El Tari airport on Friday," he said.

The executive staff of PAN of East Nusa Tenggara, Gonzalo GM Sada, said that PAN is confirmed to nominate Eurico for legislators. "Eurico has clear supporters. He has 41,000 people behind him beyond the PAN adherents," said Gonzalo.

Jems de Fortuna


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