Subject: AFP: Former militia boss denies ordering Timor attacks

Agence France Presse

August 8, 2002 Thursday

Former militia boss denies ordering Timor attacks


A former militia boss accused of inciting a massacre in East Timor in 1999 on Thursday denied allegations by a compatriot that he had ordered his men to attack pro-independence supporters.

"It is not true, not right, that I have ordered for them to be eliminated," an emotional Eurico Gutteres told an ad hoc rights tribunal at the Central Jakarta district court, commenting on the testimony of Manuel Viegas Carrascalao.

Carrascalao, a former legislator under the Indonesian administration who turned into a pro-independence leader after 1992, said that on April 17, 1999, he had heard Gutteres on the radio, exhorting militiamen rallying in Dili to kill pro-independence leaders and their families.

Armed militias attacked Carrascalao's refugee-packed house in Dili after the rally, leaving at least 12 people dead, including Carrascalao's 16-year-old son.

Carrascalao said that on April 17 he was on the way to the airport to leave Dili when he heard Gutteres on the radio, haranguing his men at the rally in front of the governor's office.

"Eurico, I really remember, was making threats, that the Carrascalao family should be killed," said the witness, an older brother of former East Timor governor Mario Viegas Carrascalao.

He was escorted from the courtroom by two UN officials and several Indonesian escorts after his testimony. Carrascalao also testified in two other East Timor human rights trials this week.

"It is not true ... that I said: Kill Manuel Carrascalao," said Gutteres, who appeared in court wearing military fatigues of the Pro-Integration Fighters (PPI), an umbrella group of pro-Indonesian militias in East Timor.

"I am not that evil," added Guterres, 28, who was deputy commander of the PPI as well as boss of the feared Aitarak (Thorn) militia group based in Dili.

military elements, waged a campaign of terror and revenge before and after East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia on August 30, 1999.

At least 1,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died and whole towns were burnt to the ground.

Guterres is accused of failing to take "appropriate action to prevent and stop his subordinates from attacking and killing" the refugees. He faces penalties ranging from 10 years in jail to the death penalty if convicted of gross human rights violations.

Guterres is one of 18 soldiers, policemen or civilians now facing or due to face trial at the rights court.

In another session at the same court building, a panel of judges decided to proceed with the trial of the former Kopassus special forces commander in East Timor, Lieutenant Colonel Yayat Sudrajat, brushing aside the legal arguments of his lawyers who said the court had no authority to hear the case.

Two other separate panels of judges heard lawyers comment on the prosecutor's final argument in the case of former East Timor police Chief Brigadier General Timbul Silaen, and in that of five police and military officers who had served in the East Timor town of Suai.

Silaen is to hear the verdict in his case next Thursday while a date for the verdict in the case of the five officers was yet to be announced.

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