|Subject: SMH: Australian troops hunting for evidence
of Timor war crimes
Date: Sat, 02 Oct 1999 08:21:47 -0400
Sydney Morning Herald Monday, September 27, 1999 - PAGE ONE -
Australian troops hunting for evidence of Timor war crimes
By LINDSAY MURDOCH and MARTIN CHULOV in Dili
An Australian-led multinational force in East Timor is documenting evidence of elite Indonesian troops leading anti-independence militia responsible for atrocities in the devastated territory.
Military sources revealed yesterday that a man arrested last week by Australian troops and identified later as a militia platoon commander was found to have in his wallet a photograph of himself wearing the uniform of the Kopassus Indonesian special forces.
Cainto Da Silva has been interrogated by Australian military intelligence officers whose evidence may be used in proposed international prosecutions of those responsible for atrocities.
Mr Da Silva was in the custody of International Forces in East Timor (Interfet) at his own insistence, claiming he would be killed if released. The Herald has also found amid the ruins of a hotel in the capital Dili photographs of a meeting between Indonesia's former President Soeharto and Mr Eurico Guterres, the commander of one of the most feared militia groups.
Human rights groups say there is uncontested evidence of the involvement of Mr Guterres in crimes against humanity, including mass murder.
In April, Mr Guterres publicly ordered his men to "capture and kill if necessary" members of the prominent East Timorese Carrascalao family.
Minutes later, 100 militiamen stormed the Dili home of the pro-independence leader Mr Manuel Carrascalao and killed 12 people, including his 18-year-old son.
The United Nations yesterday announced the launch of the first official investigation into atrocities as countries prepared to vote at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva for a motion to set up a war crimes tribunal.
But the UN's spokesman in East Timor, Mr David Wimhurst, said there was an urgent need for forensic experts to gather evidence of the atrocities.
A force commander, Colonel Mark Kelly, said Interfet's commander, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, had made an urgent submission to the UN to provide resources to gather evidence on crimes against humanity.
Mr Wimhurst said the bodies of two executed people found in Tibar, 15 kilometres west of Dili, had been video-taped in the first of what he predicted would be many investigations into atrocities.
But since international troops started arriving in East Timor a week ago they have only recorded information and inspected scores of other suspected killing sites.
Bodies have been decomposing untouched at massacre sites, including in the backyard well of Mr Carrascalao's gutted home.
The head of the UN in East Timor, Mr Ian Martin, is believed to have pleaded with the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, to send a team of forensic experts to the territory to document the atrocities in the same away as the UN did recently in Kosovo.
The mostly Australian Interfet troops are still experiencing difficulties maintaining order in Dili.
The first UN and Interfet convoy that reached Baucau, the territory's second biggest town, at the weekend found most of the infrastructure had been destroyed.
Sydney Morning Herald Monday, September 27, 1999
Departing army leaves ugly reminders
Bodies and tools of torture lie in the Indonesian soldiers' wake, reports Herald Correspondent, LINDSAY MURDOCH, in Dili.
It didn't look like a torture chamber, just an ordinary office next to a burning bank on Dili's waterfront. But in their haste, Indonesian soldiers left behind two metal spoons taped to a stick, their ends connected to two electrical wires, each a metre long. The source of the electric shocks was a power point behind a desk.
Many pro-independence leaders like Mr David Ximenes have told how the Indonesian security forces used electric shocks as instruments of torture over almost three decades.
Mr Ximenes, who remains in hiding in the hills above Dili, says scars on his hands and genitals were caused by repeated shocks during many hours of torture. "Using electric shocks was routine," he recently told the Herald. Hundreds of Indonesian soldiers are each day singing patriotic songs as they board military landing barges at Dili's wharf, ending their country's 24-year rule of the former Portuguese territory. But this is an army departing in disgrace. Dili has the smell of decay. Here are two charred skeletons in a house on the capital's outskirts, stumbled upon by chance by wandering journalists. Somebody has laid fresh flowers.
Here are the decomposing bodies of two men in a canal near the military commander's imposing waterfront residence. Nobody has yet started to pull out the bodies from a 30-metre deep well at the trashed and burnt home of the independence leader Mr Manuel Carrascalao. Nobody has yet walked amid the ruins of the suburb of Becora, which just a few weeks ago was a stronghold for the anti-Indonesian movement.
And nobody has started to look under the tonnes of charred and twisted corrugated iron, all that remains of hundreds of houses and government buildings, let alone in the dozens of destroyed towns and villages outside the capital.
The soldiers are leaving behind apparently well-considered graffiti. "New Indonesian motto: don't trust Australia" appeared on some buildings overnight. Here is a taste of some others: "F--- you UNAMET" and "UNAMET mission impossible".
UNAMET stands for the United Nations Mission in East Timor, whose more than 1,000 personnel were forced to abandon the territory three weeks ago amid an eruption of violence.
As the soldiers go, they are taking what they can. One scam is to sell looted food to refugees or even members of the pro-independence guerilla group Falintil. Food is so scare that Falintil has no choice but to do business with their enemy. The thugs of the pro-Indonesian militia have either fled or are hiding, as Australian troops serving for the International Force for East Timor sweep through streets and houses searching for them.
Without the protection of the Indonesian armed forces, the militia are suddenly finding themselves vulnerable. There are reports of many militia running for the protection of the Australian soldiers, who often take them into custody for their own protection.
The bell at the chapel behind the destroyed home of Bishop Carlos Belo rang out across Dili shortly after dawn yesterday but nobody came. The head of the Catholic Church in the territory has fled overseas and worshippers will wait until he returns before going back to his chapel.
Sydney Morning Herald Monday, September 27, 1999
Piles of discarded evidence bear witness to atrocities
By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili
A vast cache of documentary and forensic evidence linking Jakarta's involvement to hardline pro-Indonesian militias accused of horrendous human rights abuses continues to lie unsecured in Dili one week after the arrival of Australian-led peacekeepers.
Since their discovery a week ago, the remains of an unknown number of suspected militia victims remain in the bottom of a well less than one kilometre from the Hotel Turismo, where Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Barnes gives a daily briefing to Australian and foreign reporters.
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said a team from Dili's main hospital probably would recover the remains in the well, which is behind a house owned by the independence activist Mr Manuel Carrascalao.
One senior United Nations political official said last week that the death toll from two weeks of militia violence could be more than 1,000.
Mr David Wimhurst, the UN's spokesman in East Timor said: "There is no structural body that can be brought to bear [to investigate the alleged atrocities] and this is a weak point.
"There has got to be a rapid response to protect these sites," he said, especially if an international war crimes tribunal was established.
The Australian commander of the International Force for East Timor, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, said there was some evidence "there have been some awful acts".
Speaking to reporters last week, General Cosgrove said it was his wish to see "some professional investigators come in rapidly".
Indonesian military also appear to be aware that their failure to remove evidence could be incriminating. Six gun-toting Indonesian soldiers who yesterday were rummaging through the offices of the ransacked Foundation for Legal Human Rights moved journalists away from the building.
Next door, at a building formerly occupied by the Integrated Intelligence Unit, Indonesian soldiers prevented people from entering. Locals claim the building was a former torture and detention centre.
At the deserted headquarters of the pro-Jakarta Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice, a bounty of material evidence including membership lists, office files, accounting records and propaganda lies strewn around the office at the mercy of looters.
Among the papers were boxes of newly printed pamphlets, part of a campaign to tarnish the reputation of the pro-independence Falintil guerilla force.
The booklets, first printed in Villawood, Sydney, in 1998 by the "East Timor Service Foundation", show in graphic and obscene detail the rape, torture and murder of several women.
The photographs have previously been published and are listed on the Internet. Human rights groups believe they were taken by Indonesian soldiers and the victims were ethnic Chinese living in East Timor and East Timorese students detained by the Indonesian military.
As part of the propaganda campaign against Falintil, the booklet alleges the crimes were committed by pro-independence forces.
Bundles of documents also lie strewn across the floor of the deserted Aitarak militia post. One contains a list of 119 militiamen from the Dili-based Company B, whose commander, Eurico Guterres, is implicated in several crimes. Another hand-written list contains the names of 24 suspected members of the pro-independence National Council for Timorese Resistance.
Their fate is unrecorded.
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