Subject: SMH: Soares Sanctioned Murder: Militia Chief

Sydney Morning Herald Friday, February 11, 2000

Soares sanctioned murder: militia chief

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent, in Jakarta

A pro-Jakarta militia commander has testified that East Timor's former governor, Mr Abilio Soares, told him early last year that all supporters of independence for the territory, including priests and nuns, should be "killed if necessary".

In confidential testimony before an independent Indonesian human rights inquiry, the commander testified that Mr Soares said "those who want independence are communists and should be killed".

According to the newspaper Media Indonesia, the commander, who was not named, also told of meetings between militia leaders and the former Bali-based Indonesian military regional commander in charge of East Timor, Major-General Adam Damiri, at which anti-independence leaders were promised funding and weapons to crush the independence movement.

"Militias were free; [if] they wanted to burn, capture or kill it was up to them," the commander was quoted as saying.

Asked if Indonesian soldiers were with the militia when they conducted operations, the commander replied: "A lot. Militias were on the front but those in back were ... elite force."

After hearing from the commander and other witnesses, National Human Rights Commission investigators recommended last week that the Attorney-General pursue Mr Soares, General Damiri and 31 others for atrocities in East Timor before and after last year's independence ballot.

One of the accused, General Wiranto, the former Indonesian military commander, has refused repeated requests from President Abdurrahman Wahid that he resign as Security Minister pending the Attorney-General's investigation, intensifying fears of an army rebellion against the Government.

A former military commander and vice-president, General Try Sutrisno, warned that unless the attacks on the military ended there would be a strong reaction. But he indicated he did not believe the military would mount a coup to oust Mr Wahid, 59, who has been trying to implement sweeping military reforms since taking office in October.

Five army generals named by the human rights team have received promotions since ending their involvement in East Timor and are still on active duty.

The commission investigators are coming under increasing pressure over their 2,000-page report on the East Timor atrocities that left hundreds dead and almost all the territory's homes and infrastructure destroyed, and forced several hundred thousand people into refugee camps in Indonesian-controlled West Timor.

The latest attack on the investigators' credibility came from representatives of Parliament's defence and information committee as MPs questioned them over their easy access to East Timor.

The official Antara news agency reported that the committee blamed the human rights team for a discriminatory inquiry that "targeted only the Indonesian military" and said it had "failed to investigate the human rights abuses, including torture and rape" committed by foreign personnel deployed in East Timor under the Australian-led Interfet.

Media Indonesia yesterday published sensational claims of human rights abuses by "Australia's Interfet" and East Timor pro-independence supporters.

It quoted a militia commander, Filomeno Antonio Brito, as alleging Interfet tortured eight of his men at Dili's port on September 22 last year. The claims included that Interfet soldiers witnessed torture by independence supporters in Bobonaro on September 26.


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