Subject: DPA: Indonesian probe into UN workers' murders mired in confusion

Also - Lusa: Jakarta Action against Killers 'Great Step' to Peace - UNTAET Chief

Deutsche Presse-Agentur September 22, 2000

Indonesian probe into U.N. workers' murders mired in confusion Jakarta

Indonesia's investigation into the brutal murders of three United Nations aid workers in West Timor was mired in confusion on Friday as police rejected claims that military personnel had been implicated in the killings.

National police spokesman, General Dadang Garnida, said six people questioned on Thursday did not include members of the Indonesian Defence Forces (TNI), as had been announced earlier that day by Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

"From the six persons, no one was from the TNI," General Garnida told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "All were from the militias."

The TNI created, trained and armed the pro-integration militias, and joined them in laying waste to East Timor after the territory overwhelmingly voted for independence after 24 years of Indonesian occupation.

Authorities have failed to make a single arrest more than two weeks after the murders, which may make it more difficult for the Jakarta government to continue resisting a visit by a U.N. Security Council mission to conduct its own investigation.

The Security Council had passed a resolution demanding Indonesia disarm and disband the militias, and allow some 120,000 East Timorese refugees languishing in West Timor to decide on their own whether to return home.

However, there is a widespread perception Jakarta remains in clinical denial about losing East Timor, as well as events occurring on Indonesia's side of the divided island.

The official line from the government and military is that the militias do not exist because they were disbanded last year. Senior cabinet ministers have refused to accept responsibility for the U.N. workers' murders, instead blaming the international community and Australian "spies".

In the days following the murders, which occurred in the border town of Atambua, opposite U.N.-controlled East Timor, armed militiamen roamed the streets without any interference from the police or military.

Atambua police chief, Superintendent S.M. Simatupang, said police have nonetheless questioned up to 20 people as witnesses, including two militia leaders on Friday, the state-run Antara news agency reported.

"Certain people, according to the initial investigation, could become suspects," Simatupang told Antara. "But more evidence is still needed.

"The two former militia leaders' status - witnesses or suspects - could be determined by the end of the investigation," he said.

The murders were sparked by the slaying of militia leader Olivio Manek, who was beheaded and castrated in a nearby town. During a funeral procession in Atambua the following day, militiamen broke away from the crowd and attacked the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR was attempting to repatriate refugees from the militia-controlled camps, and was a regular target of intimidation and violence.

Garnida said police had also detained 10 people in connection with the murder of Manek, but that none of them were military personnel, despite media reports to the contrary.

Meanwhile, police in West Timor on Friday began accepting weapons voluntarily surrendered by militiamen as part of the government's pledge to follow the U.N. resolution.

Air Vice Marshal Gratio Usodo, a TNI spokesman, said militiamen will have until Sunday to hand in their weapons, which will be displayed during a ceremony in Atambua scheduled to be attended by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"If they don't (surrender them), we will take them by force," Usodo told dpa.

However, Usodo said the military would not disarm the militiamen of machetes - their weapon of choice - which attackers used to kill the three U.N. workers.

"We cannot take that because they use it for farming or to get food," he said. "They are very poor people. The only tools they have are their spade and their machete."

Usodo said he did not know how many weapons had been handed in on Friday, and local police could not be reached by telephone.

Major General Kiki Syahnakri, the TNI regional commander, said he would resign if the military did not disarm the militias, although he did not refer to them as such.

"I will step down as a commander ... if the disarming of the East Timorese refugees fails," said Syahnakri, keeping with the official government line.

The general speculated there were about 1,000 home-made rifles hidden in the militia-controlled refugee camps, but did not mention the military-style assault rifles the TNI supplied the militiamen. dpa jc sh

--- East Timor: Jakarta Action against Killers 'Great Step' to Peace - UNTAET Chief 21 Sept-12:05

East Timor's United Nations administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Thursday welcomed Jakarta's announcement it had identified an would arrest the killers of UN workers in West Timor, including Indonesian soldiers, as "a great step forward" for peace.

"I have total confidence" in Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, Vieira de Mello said in Dili, adding that it came "as no surprise" that Indonesian troops were suspected of the crime.

"We have thought for a long time that it was probable that members of the TNI (Indonesian military), out of control and outside the chain of command, were helping and cooperating with the militias" opposing East Timor's independence, he said.

If the suspects of killing three UN refugee aid workers in Atambua Sept. 6 were arrested as promised by Jakarta, it would give "the greatest credibility" to Indonesia's pledge it would act to disarm and dismantle the paramilitary groups, Vieira de Mello added.

His comments came shortly after Darusman announced in Jakarta that six suspects had been identified in the killings, including soldiers. Police in Atambua were preparing to detain the suspects he added.

Vieira de Mello also said his UNTAET administration had yet to receive a "formal proposal" from Jakarta to monitor its efforts to demobilize the anti-independence militias.

The Indonesian government has said an UNTAET team would be welcome to observe its demobilization program in West Timor.

Jakarta announced last week that it would seek to "persuade" the paramilitaries to lay down their weapons by Sept. 26, after which "repressive measures" would be taken against recalcitrant groups.

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