Subject: AP: E Timor Court Sentences Militiaman To Prison For Murder

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Associated Press October 13, 2003

E Timor Court Sentences Militiaman To Prison For Murder

DILI, East Timor (AP)--An East Timorese court on Monday sentenced a pro-Jakarta militiaman to 10 years and six months in prison for murdering two pro-independence supporters during the country's break from Indonesia in 1999.

Domingos Mendonca, 43, of the Tim Ablai militia was also found guilty of forcibly deporting villagers to Indonesian-held West Timor in the days after the territory voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

Indonesia's military formed the Ablai militia and others like it to intimidate East Timor's 800,000 people into voting for continued union with Jakarta.

Aided by the army, the militias killed more than 1,000 people before, during and after the ballot. The violence only stopped when international peacekeepers arrived.

Most militia members fled to neighboring West Timor after Indonesian troops withdrew from their former province.

Mendonca, who was arrested in 2001, was found guilty by a three-judge panel in the murders of Luis Boco Siri and Agapito de Araujo in central East Timor between April and September 1999.

Mendonca's lawyer told reporters he wouldn't appeal the verdict.

Indonesia came under intense pressure to try those responsible for the 1999 violence.

Trials of Indonesian suspects have taken place in Jakarta, but the process has come under widespread criticism from rights activists. Only six of 18 Indonesian government and military officials accused of allowing the violence have been convicted.

They were all given light sentences and remain free pending their appeal.

East Timorese courts have charged a total of 350 people - including at least 32 Indonesian commanders and officers - for the violence and convicted 35. Most of those charged now live freely in Indonesia.

-Edited by Mary de Wet


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