Subject: Age: Man behind Timor massacre named

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

The Age [Melbourne] Friday 5 November 1999

Man behind Timor massacre named By TOM FAWTHROP


As red tape and obstruction delay the United Nations investigation of human rights abuses in East Timor, a witness has identified an Indonesian army officer who allegedly directed one of the worst atrocities.

His account, and those of other survivors, indicate that killings inside a church compound in the town of Suai could have been on a greater scale than first reported.

The killings took place on 6September, two days after the announcement of the pro-independence vote in the 30August referendum. The victims were among the thousands who had sought shelter from pro-Indonesian militia in the compound.

Lieutenant Sugito Carman has been identified by survivors of the Suai massacre as the man "giving the orders" on 6September, which led to the murder of three priests, the mutilation of corpses, the burning of the church and a death toll reported to be between 200 and 300.

A pile of female underwear at the foot of the cathedral's staircase appears to indicate that dozens of women were raped.

During a visit to Suai last week, Bishop Carlos Belo celebrated a Mass in which witnesses of the massacre were invited to come forward and tell what happened.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jose Santos (not his real name) said the church compound, including a school, a new cathedral still under construction, and the old church, was full of refugees on 6September before the attack.

Estimates of the number of refugees seeking sanctuary from the pro-Jakarta militia based in Suai vary from a conservative 300 to several thousand.

A number of people have identified an Indonesian military officer as being among the combined force of militia, soldiers and Brimob (police mobile brigade) that surrounded the compound at 2.30 pm on 6September.

Mr Santos said: "I was looking through a window in a room behind Father Hilario's office (Father Hilario Madeira was the senior priest of Suai). I recognised Lieutenant Sugito. He fired a pistol into the air. That was the signal. Then the militia, everybody, all of them started firing." Lieutenant Sugito was identified by other Suai residents as the Koramil chief, or sub-district military commander, and as an active participant in the attack on the church.

"I know Sugito very well," Mr Santos said. "He was head of Koramil."

Mr Santos said: "I saw Father Hilario killed. He was standing on the veranda outside his room. The militia shot him from about 10metres. Two shots were fired by a G3 rifle and Father Hilario fell to the ground."

Two other priests, Father Francisco Soares and an Indonesian who had just been ordained, Father Tarcissus Dewanto, had already been killed. The attackers were armed with automatic rifles, machetes and grenades.

Six or seven grenades were thrown into the church packed with refugees, according to Atanasio de Costa, a 13-year-old nephew of Father Hilario. Other witnesses recall three or four grenades and that afterwards they set fire to the church and nearby buildings.

Another witness, Mr Eliziu Gusmao, said that from his hiding place near the convent he overheard the militia discussing what to do with all the bodies.

"I saw three military trucks loaded up with the corpses, but some were still alive and screaming as they were taken away with the dead. I guess they had around 200 in the trucks but I am not sure."

Around 6pm, Mr Santos, believing the militias and military had dispersed, emerged from his hiding place. "I saw around 100 dead bodies on the ground. Some inside the church, others outside. Some were on top of each other with big gashes and cuts in the flesh, and some had no arms. Legs had been cut off and some activists had been decapitated."

The mutilations are confirmed by other witnesses.

If their accounts are correct, the death toll is much higher than the previous estimate of around 100, cited in a news report by Fides, the Vatican newsagency, based on the evidence of another witness, a Canossian Sister from Suai.

InterFET is mystified about the disappearance of all the bodies. Timorese reports that most of the corpses were dumped into crocodile-infested lakes near the border with West Timor have yet to be seriously investigated.

A mixture of bureaucratic bungling and political opposition from Indonesia, China and other allies has combined to obstruct the efforts of the UN's inquiry into East Timorese human rights violations from getting off the ground, according to Ms Lucia Withers from Amnesty International's Asia and Pacific Department.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, has asked Mrs Mary Robinson, head of the UN Human Rights Commission, to arrange for her East Timor Inquiry to present its findings on human rights abuses by 31December.

But six weeks after the UN inquiry was called for, the investigation is yet to set foot in East Timor and is still lacking a mandate from New York. Amnesty International says that "after 24 years of turning a blind eye to human rights violations committed in East Timor, the international community has a responsibility to ensure redress and justice for the East Timorese".

Human-rights activists recall that in Kosovo, teams of forensic experts rushed in behind NATO forces to gather evidence of Serb crimes against the Albanian ethnic minority.

Dr Andrew McNaughton, who works for Timor Aid in Dili, says: "It appears the international community lacks the same political will to indict Indonesian generals for crimes against humanity."

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