Subject: Militia link to Timor attack suspects
Militia link to Timor attack suspects
April 20, 2008
THREE rebels involved in attacks on East Timor's top two political leaders have been arrested in Indonesian West Timor where they were staying at the invitation of Joao Tavares, a notorious former pro-Jakarta militia commander.
Indonesian security forces traced the men to Mr Tavares, who was described by United Nations war crimes prosecutors as the supreme militia commander in East Timor in 1999 when 1500 people were killed and 70% of the country's infrastructure destroyed.
The arrests came after Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told his East Timor counterpart, Jose Ramos Horta, on the phone last week that Jakarta would crack down on any support for the rebels coming from Indonesia.
The investigation into the attacks is focusing on contacts rebel leader Alfredo Reinado who led the attack on the two leaders and was killed during it had with people in Indonesia, including a Timorese-born Jakarta gangster, Hercules Rozario Marcal. Reinado's mobile telephone listed 21 Indonesian contact numbers, including one for "Hercul".
The two men spoke together by phone on January 19, three weeks before the attempted assassination of Mr Ramos Horta and the attempted abduction of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
On January 21, Marcal visited Dili with an Indonesian business delegation. Investigators in Dili are trying to confirm information that Reinado also travelled to the Indonesian island of Batam in May last year under the assumed name Simlisio De La Crus with his Timorese-born Australian lover, Angelita Pires, and Marcal.
Investigators see the arrests in West Timor, particularly that of Ismail Moniz Soares, also known as Asanco, as an important breakthrough. They want to question Soares about why he rang a security guard at Mr Ramos Horta's house on Dili's outskirts at 6.04 on the morning of the attacks, minutes before Reinado and nine other rebels stormed the house.
The call indicates that Mr Ramos Horta may have been betrayed by at least one of his guards.
Soares is alleged to have been among the rebels who ambushed Mr Gusmao, who escaped unhurt into jungle near his home. The other rebels arrested, Jose Gomez and Egidio Carvalho, were at Mr Ramos Horta's house when the President was shot and seriously wounded and Reinado was shot dead.
Mr Ramos Horta has stressed in his public comments that neither the Indonesian Government nor the Indonesian military as an institution are implicated in providing support for Reinado.
But announcing the arrests in Jakarta late on Friday, President Yudhoyono said he asked East Timor "not to issue statements which may seem like Indonesia is involved (in the attacks) because it can disrupt the good relationship". Indonesia swiftly supplied East Timor with information about calls Reinado made to Indonesian numbers.
Investigators are still waiting for information from Australia about numbers Reinado called before the attacks.
Australian Federal Police are also investigating the source of $800,000 in a Commonwealth Bank account that Reinado accessed through ATMs in Dili. He had US$30,000 ($A32,000) on his body when he was killed. The account was opened by Ms Pires, who is under a court order in Dili to report regularly to police as the investigation continues.
Ms Pires, who is unemployed, has denied any prior knowledge of the attacks.
Radio Australia April 22, 2008 -transcript-
Three Arrested in Indonesia for Timor Attacks
Three men have been arrested in Indonesia in connection with the February attacks on the president and prime minister of East Timor.
Presenter: Tom Fayle
Speakers: Timor expert Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University
KINGSBURY: The interesting thing about this association is that Jaoa Tavares was the head of the militias which rampaged through East Timor in 1999, before and after the ballot for independence. Now Jaoa Tavares has been supported by the Indonesian military, the TNI for many years. In fact he was supported by and worked with Indonesian military going back as far as 1975 or even 74 and was clearly part of the Indonesian military structure in 1999 and has been supported by the Indonesian military and worked with them since then.
It's almost impossible for Jaoa Tavares to have guests at his house, particularly the types of guests that he is reported to have had without the Indonesian military at least knowing about it and I would imagine approving of that visit.
We know that the Indonesian military runs smuggling operations across the border into East Timor in concert with militia members and with some members of the East Timorese police and military. And clearly the links were already there and what these three have done is just continued to use those links and travel across the border and seek support and assistance from the ex-militia leader.
FAYLE: Now the arrests of the three Timorese rebels was announced by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and he also had a few barbed words to say about some of the comments coming out of Dili?
YUDHOYONO REMARKS: It is my fervent hope that the leadership of Timor Leste would not issue any statement to insinuate any involvement on the part of Indonesia, which may cause confusion or misinterpretation by the international community and for the Indonesian people.
FAYLE: President Yudhoyono there, clearly a little annoyed. Damien Kingsbury, do you think he's got grounds for being a bit testy?
KINGSBURY: I think what Yudhoyono's trying to do is walk a fine line between what he knows to be official corruption on the part of the Indonesian military and the militias that still exist in West Timor and the official position of the state.
Now, clearly the state and Yudhoyono do not support this sort of activity. I don't think they are anyway involved officially. But Yudhoyono knows very well that the Indonesian military still survives economically by running illegal or black market businesses including the type of smuggling I've just referred to. And he would know that there would be these types of links across the border. And he saying well this isn't official policy and we don't want people talking about it in public, because it might be confused with official policy.
However, this is a critical issue, because it's part of Yudhoyono's own crackdown on the TNI trying to get it to clean up its act and I think that he's finding this a bit embarrassing and probably creating for him some domestic problems.
FAYLE: Alright, what's been Mr Ramos Horta's response to the Indonesians presidents comments then?
KINGSBURY: Well, Mr Ramos Horta has backed down on his comments. He said that he was misinterpreted by the media and he is obviously back peddling because he wants to retain good relations with President Yudhoyono and the Indonesian Government and that's been the position of the Timorese Government now for the last few years. So that's entirely consistent.
The problem is of course though when he does discuss a legitimate problem and there is support for cross border smuggling from West Timor, from the TNI there and obviously some link to the people who were working with Reinado and probably with Reinado himself.
The problem is if we can't talk about this in public, if Yudhoyono says don't talk about this and Ramos Horta accedes to that demand, then what we find is a censorship in cover up and of course we can't resolve these types of problems if you have that type of censorship and cover up.