Subject: E. Timor militia leader sentenced to 10 years in jail (4 articles)
E. Timor militia leader sentenced to 10 years in jail
Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta 28 Nov 2002
The ad hoc human rights court sentenced the former pro-Jakarta militia leader Eurico Guterres to 10 years in jail on Wednesday for his role in a massacre in East Timor three years ago, making him the second person of East Timorese origin to have been convicted in the landmark trial here.
The verdict quickly sparked anger from Eurico, who questioned the fairness of the human rights trial for failing to punish military and police officers for their involvement in the atrocities that marked the territory's breakaway from the republic after 23 years of occupation.
"It is unfair that a civilian like me must serve 10 years in jail, but all the military and police officers were acquitted even though they were responsible for the violence," a dejected Eurico said.
"What I did was to try to maintain the unity of Indonesia, but now I have to go to jail."
Eurico, however, does not have to start serving his jail term right away as the judges did not order his immediate imprisonment, despite the fact that they had convicted him of committing an extraordinary crime.
The desolate ex-militia figure demanded that former president B.J. Habibie and former Armed Forces commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto be brought to justice for their crucial roles in the widespread destruction and violence prior to and after the referendum that resulted in East Timor's independence.
Eurico said he was considering an appeal to the High Court.
The verdict against Eurico has given rise to widespread suspicions that civilians are being scapegoated for the 1999 chaos in the former Indonesian province, while military and police officers are being allowed to escape scot-free.
Prior to the start of Eurico's trial, former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares was sentenced to three years in jail.
A total of 18 defendants have been or will be brought before the human rights tribunal.
Eurico's sentence is still below the minimum sentence of 11 years in jail stipulated in Law No. 26/2000 on human rights tribunals, the legal basis for the trial.
"We find him guilty of having allowed his followers to murder and torture people in the house of Manuel Viegas Carrascalao on April 17, 1999, in Dili, where 12 people were killed and three others injured," presiding judge Herman Heller Hutapea pronounced.
Herman said that prior to the massacre, Eurico had delivered a speech to militia members during a ceremony broadcast by a local radio station ordering them to kill Manuel and his family.
Manuel was one of the East Timorese leaders who supported independence for East Timor.
"His speech fired up the militiamen and they responded by screaming "kill, kill, kill", and even fired shots into the air," Herman said.
"As the militia's leader, Eurico should have realized that he could control and stop his followers from attacking Manuel's house, but he didn't do so."
The court, however, said that the former East Timor military commander, Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman, and other government officials who attended the ceremony, must also be held responsible for the attack.
"Tono ignored a report from Manuel that his house would be attacked by pro-Jakarta militiamen. He did not take any action until the incident occurred," he said.
"Government officials attending the ceremony were also unwilling to use their powers to prevent the attack".
Over 1,000 are believed to been killed during the widespread violence and some 250,000 people were forced to flee to East Nusa Tenggara after the referendum
Human rights activists have called for an international tribunal to try the suspects, claiming that the ad hoc court had failed to provide justice for the victims of the atrocities.
But observers have expressed pessimism that such an international tribunal for East Timor would materialize due to weak support from permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, including the U.S., Russia and China.
'True patriot' Guterres is left to court loneliness
By Don Greenlees November 28, 2002 The Australian
DURING his heyday as the deputy commander of East Timor militias in 1999, Eurico Guterres strutted and posed in camouflage fatigues like a vain general.
His long mane of hair tied into a ponytail, he perched the red beret of the Indonesian army's special forces on his head at a dashing tilt.
Guterres affected the bravado of a man who had powerful supporters. He could count on the backing of senior Indonesian army officers: he was feted by them in smoky karaoke rooms, in expensive hotels and at parades of his rag-tag army of militiamen.
But when judgment day came yesterday, Guterres was largely alone. In the courtroom in Jakarta where he awaited a late-afternoon verdict for his human rights crimes, only a handful of East Timorese followers were in evidence.
On the lapel of his black jacket, the scoundrel who always turned out with the colours of the Indonesian flag wore a red and white badge. Yet no one from the military or Government was present to lend moral support to a man some members of parliament once described as a true "patriot". Empty seats were scattered around the public gallery.
The offences Guterres was on trial for in the Human Rights Court were only a small proportion of what Indonesian and foreign investigators believe were his crimes in East Timor. Prosecutors built their case around his role in inciting a massacre at the Dili home of independence figure Manuel Carrascalao on April 17, 1999.
Shortly before the attack, Guterres told a militia parade witnessed by senior army officers and members of the provincial administration that his followers should get rid of opponents of Indonesian rule.
Chief prosecutor Muhammad Yusuf said: "The statement was not an order to attack Manuel's house, but the reaction from the crowd was 'kill', and he didn't take any action to prevent his people (from launching the attack)."
Yusuf requested a 10-year jail term. As commander of the Dili-based Aitarak (Thorn) militia and deputy overall commander of the militias, Guterres played an integral role in a covert operation, approved by armed forces commanders, to win the 1999 independence referendum, according to numerous investigations and witness accounts.
The 28-year-old's trial has been a significant test of Indonesia's willingness to bring the perpetrators to justice. But human rights observers say Indonesia is failing the test: many of the real masterminds of the violence are not even on trial and the courts have singularly failed to convict any member of the security forces.
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