Subject: Age: Officer named as Sander Thoenes killer

Also: AFP: Indonesian team probing journalist's murder ends E. Timor visit

The Age March 9, 2002

Officer named as killer

Jill Jolliffe

A Dutch police investigator has named an Indonesian officer as the killer of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes during militia violence in Dili in September, 1999.

Chief Inspector Gerritt Thiry said he believed Second Lieutenant Camillo dos Santos of Battalion 754 had killed the Jakarta correspondent of The Financial Times.

"In October, 2001, we were able to identify an eye witness. He was able to point out the suspect and identify him as being the one who pointed his gun at Sander Thoenes, after which shots were fired," he said.

He was speaking at a joint press conference of UN prosecutors and a visiting Indonesian team investigating human rights violations in East Timor in 1999.

The Indonesian team, led by Abdul Muis Gussing, interviewed nine witnesses to the killing. He said the evidence would have to be presented to Jakarta before action could be taken.

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

also: Indonesian team probing journalist's murder ends E. Timor visit

Indonesia team completes probe into death of Dutch journalist

DILI, East Timor, March 8 (Kyodo) - An Indonesian investigative mission has completed a probe into the September 1999 killing of a Dutch journalist in East Timor, the mission chief said Friday.

Abdul Muis Gussing, leader of the Indonesian Serious Human Rights Violations Investigation Team, told a press conference that the chief of investigation in Jakarta will make a decision on the evidence obtained in the investigations.

Sander Robert Thoenes was allegedly killed in the mass violence that followed East Timor's overwhelming decision to secede from Indonesia in a U.N.-organized referendum held in August 1999.

Hundreds of people were killed during the post-referendum violence carried out by pro-Jakarta militias with the support of the Indonesian National Army (TNI).

However, at the same press conference Gerrit Thiry, chief superintendent of the National Police Agency of the Netherlands, said the results of two investigations carried out with the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor proved the Indonesian military's involvement in Thoenes' death.

''We are convinced that Battalion 745 of the TNI was responsible for the killing of Sander Thoenes,'' Thiry said.

Indonesian team probing journalist's murder ends E. Timor visit

JAKARTA, March 8 (AFP) - An Indonesian legal team investigating the 1999 murder of a Dutch journalist in East Timor has ended a visit to the territory after making "significant inquiries", UN staff said Friday.

Sander Thoenes was working as the Jakarta correspondent for Britain's Financial Times when he was killed in the territory's capital Dili on September 21, 1999, by departing Indonesian troops.

The three-man team, the first Indonesian investigation team to visit East Timor, spent 10 days in the territory and interviewed nine witnesses -- eight East Timorese and a journalist who travelled from England.

Dutch investigator, Chief Superintendent Gerrit Thiry, told a press conference in Dili that a lead suspect in the murder of Thoenes was Second Lieutenant Camilo dos Santos, of Battalion 745.

"We were able to identify a witness who was able to point out a suspect and identify him as the man who pointed his gun to the back of Sander Thoenes, and shots were heard," Thiry said.

Members of the Serious Crimes Unit from the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor also attended the interviews along with a senior Dutch policeman.

"The Serious Crime Unit is investigating the case on the basis that members of Indonesian army Battalion 745 were responsible for the killing," said prosecutor Stuart Alford.

"We have not gone so far as to name individual members."

Thoenes had arrived in Dili hours earlier to cover the arrival of the UN-sanctioned Australian peacekeeping forces. They were sent in following an orgy of killing and destruction by military-backed pro-Indonesian militiamen.

The violence was sparked off by East Timor's vote for independence in a UN-sponsored ballot on August 30, 1999.

Alford told AFP that battalion members killed 10 East Timorese as well as Thoenes as it withdrew in convoy from its eastern base at Los Palos to Dili, and then back to Indonesia.

"Some people describe it as a scorched-earth policy in terms of destruction by fire and looting and killing -- part of a pattern of looting and property destruction as they were leaving the country," he said.

The killings were apparently random murders, Alford said.

He said some of the witnesses were East Timorese who were members of the battalion at the time while others were bystanders.

"There is some some good evidence about who was in the vicinity and who was involved."

Alford said his unit expects at some time to issue indictments. "The question after that is whether we ever get the suspects ... we have to fight that battle as well."

Last month international prosecutors in East Timor indicted nine pro-Jakarta militiamen and eight Indonesian soldiers over a bloody rampage against independence supporters in Dili in April 1999 which cost 13 lives.

But Jakarta said it would refuse to hand them over in the absence of an extradition treaty.

Indonesia has set up its own human rights tribunal to try offences committed in April and in September 1999 in three districts of East Timor. The killers of Thoenes can be taken to the court under these restrictions.

Alford said the Indonesians "came with genuine intentions. But they don't ultimately make the decision about who goes in front of the tribunal.

"But it was the first time we had an investigation team from Indonesia -- that alone is progress."

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