Subject: LUSA: Lospalos Massacre Trial to Begin in July

21 May 01 20:29 East Timor: Lospalos Massacre Trial to Begin in July

The trial of suspects in a 1999 massacre committed near Lospalos in East Timor should formally begin July 3 in the Dili courthouse, the territory's UN transition administration (UNTAET) confirmed on Monday.

Preliminary hearings in the case began last Feb. 16. Charges have been filed against 11 suspects: 10 East Timorese members of the Team Alfa and Jati Merah Putih militias, and Lt. Sayful Anwar of the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus). The Indonesian officer and one of the East Timorese suspects are still at large; the others are detained in Dili.

The case centers on crimes committed in the Lospalos area at the territory's eastern tip between April 21 and September 25, 1999, during the period before and just after the Aug. 1999 independence plebiscite. It includes what prosecutors have labeled the "most heinous" crime in a terror campaign conducted by the group: the brutal ambush and murder near Lospalos of five members of a religious order, two church workers, a journalist and a youth on Sept. 25, 1999.

The East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence on Aug. 30, 1999, leading to the end of 24 years of Indonesian occupation. The territory has since Oct. 1999 been governed by a UN administration charged with preparing the transition to full independence.

JBC -Lusa-

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