Subject: JP: Victim witnesses must testify before court: UNTAET official

The Jakarta Post May 17, 2002

Victim witnesses must testify before court: UNTAET official

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

There was no reason for East Timorese victim witnesses to defy the summons to testify before the Indonesian rights tribunal, a United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) official said on Thursday.

UNTAET representative here Grant Wilson said East Timor Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro had promised to fly seven East Timorese to Jakarta to testify against former provincial military, police and civilian officials currently standing trial for alleged involvement in East Timor atrocities in 1999.

"We leave the decision to them, but I have met the police here to asked for protection for the East Timorese witnesses. The police promised me to guarantee their safety," Wilson told The Jakarta Post.

Jose Menezes Nunes Serrao, Emilio Bareto, and Joao Pereira will testify against former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen, while Dominggos Dos Santos Maujinho, Fres da Costa, Armando De Deus Granadero, and Tobias Dos Santos will testify against five military and police officers accused of a massacre at a church in Suai town, which left 27 people dead.

Wilson said the seven would only arrive in Jakarta after May 27 at the earliest, due to the week-long celebrations of the former Portuguese colony's independence.

The East Timor authorities have declared the holiday starting from May 20 to give the people ample time to reflect and celebrate the historic day.

"I even heard that air space over East Timor will also be restricted for about two days after the ceremony on May 20 because many state guests will attend the event," Wilson said.

The ad hoc court decided in a hearing on Thursday to set a June 6 deadline for prosecutors to present East Timorese victim witnesses.

"We, the judges, will take a certain decision over the fate of the tribunal if the prosecutors fail to meet our demand," Presiding Judge Andi Samsan Nganro said, without elaborating.

Legal observers have criticized the court's failure to present victim witnesses, saying the tribunal will lose its credibility if none of the witnesses testify.

Timbul's trial on Thursday heard the testimony of former Suai Police precinct chief Lt. Col. Gatot Subiaktoro, who is also a defendant in a similar case but being tried separately.

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