Subject: SMH: Rampage became a certainty after militia leader's murder

Sydney Morning Herald September 8, 2000

Rampage became a certainty after militia leader's murder


The plan was simple and savage: kill Olivio Mendoza Moruk and the pro-Jakarta militia roaming West Timor would go berserk, as they did when they left East Timor last year.

The killers left nothing to chance: they sliced his throat and cut off his testicles.

Moruk became a martyr among the thugs of the militia.

The 45-year-old was one of the militia leaders responsible for orchestrating death and destruction on a grand scale in East Timor last year.

Only last week the office of Indonesia's Attorney-General listed him among 19 suspects facing prosecution over the violence.

Even the most notorious militia leader, Eurico Guterres, was not on the list.

It was probably no coincidence that Moruk was murdered on the eve of the anniversary of the Suai massacre.

On September 6 last year members of the Laksaur militia he led, backed by soldiers and police, attacked about 100 people who had taken refuge in the grounds of the church in the town of Suai in East Timor.

According to a report by Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission, Moruk's thugs shot dead one priest then stepped on his body. Another priest was stabbed to death.

Other attackers shot people as they tried to flee.

With the blood of at least 50 unarmed people on his hands, Moruk had walked tall among the militia for the past 12 months.

When his mutilated body was found on Tuesday night in the small border town of Atambua in West Timor, anger quickly spread among the militia, who have become a law unto themselves in the Indonesian province.

Somebody started a rumour that United Nations peacekeepers in East Timor had killed him.

Within hours, truckloads of militia from across West Timor were rampaging through Atambua, venting their anger at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Like almost everything else bad that happens in Indonesia, speculation is rife in Jakarta about what sinister plot was behind Moruk's killing.

Few if any people believe the explanation of Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, the regional Indonesian military commander, that Moruk was killed after an argument between former militia members over gambling.

The Attorney-General, Mr Marzuki Darusman, expressed suspicion about a political motive.

"I think it was too coincidental that Olivio was killed right after he was named a suspect," he said.

The timing of the death and its brutal aftermath could not have been worse for President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was in New York for the UN millennium summit.

Mr Wahid said he feared the attack may have been timed to coincide with his appearance at the UN to maximise the political embarrassment to him.

Who was behind the plot? Strong suspicion immediately fell on Kopassus, the elite special force of the Indonesian army which is among the worst culprits in the East Timor bloodbath.

Other speculation centred on militia leaders and high-ranking Indonesian officers who are, so far, absent from the Attorney-General's list of suspects.

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