Subject: LUSA: 21 Indonesian Officers, Militiamen Charged in Liquica Massacre

23 Nov 01 12:15 East Timor: 21 Indonesian Officers, Militiamen Charged in Liquica Massacre

The East Timorese attorney general´s office has formally presented a Dili court with charges of crimes against humanity against 21 anti-independence militiamen and Indonesian army officers in the 1999 Liquica church massacre.

A total of 18 accusations - including assassination, torture, forced deportation and extermination - were made Thursday before the Special Panel on Serious Crimes at the Dili District Tribunal.

The whereabouts of most of the 21 accused, primarily members of the Besi Merah Puti paramilitary gang, are unknown but presumed to be in Indonesia.

The defendants include the former administrator of Liquica, where up to some 200 people were slaugthered at the local Catholic church in April 1999, and six Indonesian army officers, including the regional commander, Lt. Col. Kusumawandi.

The Liquica case is the fourth involving charges of crimes against humanity to be brought before the special panel.

The court is expected to issue its first ruling in one of these cases - the September 1999 murder of church workers in Lospalos - next month.

The total number of victims at the hands of militiamen and Indonesian soldiers and police in Liquica has never been fully determined, ranging from a low of 61 to more than 200.

After the church massacre, the victims´ bodies were first dumped into a nearby lake. Many were later recovered and tossed into the sea in an apparent effort to hide the scale of the atrocity.

SAS -Lusa-

© 1997 Lusa Comentários e Sugestões para Agência Lusa

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