|Subject: SCU: Two Militia Commanders
SERIOUS CRIMES UNIT INFORMATION RELEASE
SCU: INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION
TWO ABLAI MILITIA COMMANDERS CONVICTED OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY FOR MURDERS AND DEPORTATION DURING 1999 IN TIMOR LESTE
At 1000 on 16 July 2003, the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Dili District Court sentenced Benjamin Sarmento and Romeiro Tilman to 12 and 8 years imprisonment for Crimes Against Humanity committed in Same sub-district in Manufahi district between April and September 1999. The two former Tim Sasurat Ablai militia commanders had been arrested along with other former Ablai militia members who had infiltrated into Same in Timor Leste from West Timor in September 2000.
Benjamin Sarmento, the former Deputy Commander of the Tim Sasarat Ablai militia group in Same subdistrict was convicted of four counts of Crimes Against Humanity (murder) and one count of Crimes Against Humanity (deportation). The Special Panel of Judges sentenced Sarmento to 12 years imprisonment for Crimes against Humanity. Sarmento had pleaded guilty to the killing of 5 independence supporters in four separate incidents in Same sub-district between April and September 1999.
Romeiro Tilman, the former third-in-command of the Tim Sasurat Ablai militia group in Same subdistrict was convicted of one count of Crimes Against Humanity (murder) and one count of Crimes Against Humanity (deportation). The Special Panel of Judges sentenced Tilman to 8 years imprisonment for Crimes against Humanity. Tilman had pleaded guilty to one count of Crimes against Humanity (murder) for ordering the killing of two independence supporters on 30 August 1999 in Datina village, Same subdistrict.
The two former Ablai militia leaders had also pleaded guilty to deportation as a Crime against Humanity for the forcible transportation of civilians from villages in Same sub-district to West Timor in planned operations following the UN-sponsored popular consultation in September 1999.
As part of the guilty plea agreement between SCU Prosecutor Ms. Shyamala Alagandra with the accused and their Defence Counsel, the SCU Prosecutor withdrew additional Crimes against Humanity charges including murder, imprisonment (or deprivation of physical liberty) and persecution included in the SCU indictment from August 2001.
Tim Sasurat Ablai militia members Joao Sarmento and Domingos Mendonca were also charged with Crimes Against Humanity in the SCU indictment from August 2001 for alleged murder, persecution and deportation. The separate trial of the two Tim Sasarat Ablai milita members will continue at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes on 23 July 2003.
The Special Panels for Serious Crimes at Dili District Court in Timor Leste are comprised of two International judges and one East Timorese judge. Since trials began at the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in 2001, 34 persons have now been convicted including former East Timorese soldiers in the Indonesian military, East Timorese militia commanders and members as well as an East Timorese Falintil resistance fighter.
16 July 2003 Serious Crimes Unit
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