Subject: JP: Rights trial witnesses fail to detail E. Timor mayhem

The Jakarta Post May 24, 2002

Rights trial witnesses fail to detail E. Timor mayhem

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Witnesses for two suspected human rights perpetrators failed to give a clear account of the incidents leading up to and following the 1999 popular ballot in East Timor as defendants enjoyed the right to question former subordinates in separate hearings on Thursday.

Former governor Abilio Soares and former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen are accused of human rights violations.

Former Liqui‡a regent Leonito Martins tried to explain in a shaky voice the gunfights between East Timorese pro-independence and pro-integration groups in his area on April 6, 1999, in which he claimed one resident was injured and later died in hospital.

He said that both groups had been trading insults since April 3. The pro-integration group demanded the other group to surrender their weapons but to no avail as the pro-independence members were taking refuge in the homes of Catholic priests.

At Thursday's hearing, Abilio repeatedly left his seat near the defense team to adjust the microphone in front of the witness stand to hear Leonito better.

Brig. Gen. Timbul questioned the testimony of former Bobonaro District Police chief Sr. Comr. Budi Susilo, who agreed in the end that the defendant had given the order to secure the ballot and to use bullets as the last option only.

The prosecutors told the court that seven witnesses were slated to testify against Timbul at the next hearing. They include five victim witnesses, who presently reside in the province of East Nusa Tenggara and East Timor.

Prosecutor James Pardede said after the hearing that the witnesses were East Timor citizens Menezes Nunes Serao, Emilio Bareto and Joao Pereira; East Nusa Tenggara residents Jose da Costa and Don Bosco; and former East Timor administration secretary Radjakarina Brahmana, who is now residing in Jakarta.

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