Subject: Age: UN issues new charges on East Timor war crimes

The Age June 29, 2002

UN issues new charges on East Timor war crimes

By Jill Jolliffe

The United Nations has increased pressure on the Indonesian Government to produce results over war crimes in East Timor by releasing its own detailed indictments for several cases including the Liquica church massacre.

The indictments, released this week by Timorese deputy prosecutor Siri Frigaard, include 36 new charges and firmly establish a command chain between the Indonesian army and the militias.

This undermines the Australian Government's official line that "rogue elements" of the army, the TNI, were responsible for aiding and abetting the militias that went on the rampage in East Timor after its people voted for independence from Indonesia.

The text of the indictment for the Liquica massacre lists charges of crimes against humanity against four Indonesian officers - including the charge of "extermination" - and gives a detailed description of Indonesian disposal of bodies, not done in any indictment to date.

In another case, Lieutenant Try Sutrisno, deputy commander in Maliana, is accused of complicity in the murder of two UN employees, while charges of mass rape in the Bobonaro region have been laid against members of Joao Tavares' Halilintar militia gang.

The 36-page Liquica indictment was filed last November but had been withheld from publication until a Dili court could guarantee protection for key witnesses.

Ten people, including four Indonesian officers, have been accused over the attack, in which civilians were shot and hacked to death by militia gangs in the run-up to the 1999 independence referendum.

Mrs Frigaard denied that the indictments were a message to Jakarta. "We are just doing our job," she said.

In late 1999, the UN Security Council voted for a two-track system of prosecution for people accused of war crimes in Timor. If satisfactory convictions were not secured, an international tribunal could take over.

The special court in Jakarta has a parallel prosecution under way for the Liquica massacre, but Mrs Frigaard said the Dili prosecution would continue anyway, because the evidence was strong and valid.

The new indictments came on the eve of a state visit to Jakarta by East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao, who has been briefed by Mrs Frigaard.

The Liquica indictment alleges more than 100 people died in the church killings and describes a perfect command structure stretching from military commander Lieutenant-Colonel Asep Kuswani, his deputy Captain Purwanto and police commander Lieutenant-Colonel Adios Salova, to Indonesian-appointed civilian administrators to Timorese members of the Besi Merah Putih militia organisation.

It contradicts Australian Government claims at the time that rogue elements in the Indonesian army were responsible for the atrocities.

The Liquica and other indictments state that the Indonesian army and police violated a May, 1999, UN agreement between Portugal and Indonesia under which they would provide security for the referendum.

The Liquica indictment provides the first documentation of systematic Indonesian disposal of bodies, agreed between Indonesian officers, district head Leoneto Martins and militia commanders. To cover up the extent of the massacre, authorities ordered militiamen and soldiers to dispose of the bodies, the accusation said.

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