Subject: Pro-Jakarta militias in E. Timor often paid by state: district chief

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Agence France-Presse June 12, 2002

Former district chief in East Timor says militias often paid by state

A former district chief in East Timor during Indonesian rule said that provincial authorities had often paid the pro-Jakarta militias who launched an orgy of violence against independence supporters in 1999.

"They are sometimes paid by the state but not routinely. When they are put to work, they receive a salary and rice," said Martinho Fernandes, whose own son died in the violence at unknown hands.

He told a human rights trial at Central Jakarta district court that the money came from the provincial budget and was given to the district chiefs by the governor.

Fernandes, asked what type of work the militiamen were given, said they were often paid to provide guard duties at public events such as rallies and meetings.

"The work had no military nature," he said.

He could not say how many militiamen were on the payroll.

Fernandes said he did not know who formed or sponsored the militias because they were already there when he became head of Viqueque district in 1999.

There have been widespread allegations that the militias were formed and armed by elements of the Indonesian security apparatus to try to sway the August 1999 independence vote in the territory.

Military witnesses at the rights court have depicted the violence as spontaneous.

Fernandes also said there were only minor cases of violence in Viqueque in the runup to the UN-held independence ballot.

"If not mistaken, there was only one small incident that led to three people injured, but I do not remember the details," he said.

Fernandes said he was sent to Kupang, the main town in Indonesian West Timor, on the day the ballot took place.

He was told later that his 19-year-old son, Jose Fernandes, had been murdered in Viqueque some time after the ballot.

"I was only told that he was killed and had both slash and gunshot wounds, but up to now I have no information on who did this," Fernandes said, adding that he believed they were certainly not pro-Indonesians.

The militiamen waged a campaign of intimidation before East Timor's vote to separate from Indonesia and a violent scorched-earth revenge campaign afterwards.

Fernandes was testifiying in the trial of Jose Osorio Abilio Soares, a native East Timorese who was Jakarta's governor of East Timor when the UN held the ballot.

Soares is one of 18 military, police and civilians now facing or due to face trial.

They are accused of responsibility for "crimes against humanity" by failing to halt five massacres of civilians in which more than 100 died.

The trials are being watched closely by the world for proof that Jakarta will punish those behind the violence. But international rights groups are sceptical that the rights court will deliver justice.

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