Subject: East Timor's militia leader refuses UNTAET questioning

The Jakarta Post March 14, 2001

East Timor's militia leader refuses UNTAET questioning

JAKARTA (JP): East Timor prointegration militia leader Eurico Guterres refused on Tuesday to be questioned by prosecutors of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

He told journalists at the Attorney General's Office that he was invited to come to the office to meet UNTAET's attorney general.

"But they then gave me a list of 200 questions and said that I was to be questioned. They deceived me," he said.

UNTAET has named him a suspect in human rights abuses related to the UN-sponsored East Timorese ballot in 1999, he said.

"What had happened in East Timor at that time was a collective sin, so not only I should be held responsible for that," he said.

Facilitated by the Attorney General's Office, UNTAET's Attorney General Mohamed Othman and his investigators led by Oyvind Olsen had arranged a meeting with Eurico.

Earlier in the day, Eurico told the North Jakarta District Court that he had ordered his men to return seized weapons to the military instead of the police, since the latter had humiliated him in front of his men.

"They prevented me from meeting Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri (during the weapon hand-over ceremony in Belu police precinct). I wanted to hand over my pistols to her myself and to ask her not to neglect my men's future. They kept me in a room and talked nonsense until the ceremony was over.

"When I finally walked out of the room of the Belu police detective chief, my men had already grabbed back the weapons they had surrendered the other day and ran into the street.

"I told them: 'It's useless to surrender our weapons to the police. Collect all the weapons you have taken and hand them to the military commander'," he told the court.

Eurico is charged with instigating a crime during an attack after a weapon hand-over ceremony led by Megawati on Sept. 24 last year.

The court is adjourned until March 22 to hear the sentence request of the prosecutors.

Chief prosecutor Hamka Minhadj said that Eurico, if found guilty, could face a maximum sentence of six years in prison. (bby) 

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