Subject: DPA: UN prosecutors hand down four war crimes indictments

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

August 8, 2001

U.N. prosecutors hand down four war crimes indictments

Dili, East Timor

East Timor prosecutors have handed down war crimes indictments against four pro-Indonesian militiamen for murder and forced deportation of thousands of East Timorese civilians after political violence in 1999, a U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Peter Biro, a spokesman for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said the crimes occurred in Manufahi district in the lead up and after Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a August, 30 1999 election.

The indictments allege that Bejamin Sarmento, deputy commander of Tim Sasurut Ablai, a pro-Indonesia militia group, and his third in command, Romeiro Tilman, conspired to murder seven civilians and were involved in forced deportations of 12,000 villagers from Same sub-district. The pair are also charged with destruction of property and killing of livestock.

Another Ablai militia member, Joao Sarmento, was charged with participation in the murder of five civilians, forced deportation and persecution. A fourth member, Domingos Mendonca, currently under conditional release, was charged with participating in the murder of three civilians and persecution.

Militia gangs and Indonesian soldiers laid waste to East Timor after the independence ballot, then herded 260,000 refugees at gunpoint into neighbouring Indonesia-controlled West Timor.

Meanwhile, East Timor's first war crimes trial, involving 10 defendants from the Team Alfa militia, continued to hear charges relating to 13 murders committed in four separate incidents in eastern Los Palos in 1999.

The U.N.'s serious crimes unit has 30 investigators examining major incidents of mass killing, deportations and individual offences of murder, torture and rape committed between January 1 and 25 October 1999.

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