Subject: AFP: UN troops arrest two ex-militiamen for East Timor rights abuses

Saturday April 5, 04:08 PM UN troops arrest two ex-militiamen for East Timor rights abuses

JAKARTA (AFP) - United Nations peacekeepers have arrested two former East Timorese militiamen for alleged involvement in crimes against humanity during East Timor's bloody breakaway from Jakarta in 1999.

The two ex-members of the Aitarak (Thorn) militia group were arrested on Friday after they illegally crossed the border town of Mota'ain in Indonesia's West Timor into the Batugade area of East Timor's Bobonaro district.

"They are now detained in East Timor. All indications suggest that they have taken part in crimes against human rights in 1999," First Sergeant Rahmat Irwanto told AFP from the border town of Atambua in West Timor.

Pro-Jakarta East Timorese militiamen waged a savage campaign of intimidation before the referendum and a scorched-earth revenge campaign afterwards. At least 1,000 people are estimated to have died and whole towns were burnt to the ground.

Thousands of militiamen and their families fled to West Timor after foreign peacekeeping troops arrived in East Timor in September 1999 to halt a wave of militia violence following its vote for independence from Jakarta.

United Nations-funded prosecutors in East Timor and numerous rights groups say the Indonesian military actively organised and directed the militia violence.

UN peacekeeping troops in East Timor recently said that well-trained groups of pro-Indonesian former militiamen are posing a "real threat" to security in parts of East Timor.

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