Subject: AU: Ex-governor jailed for Timor carnage

The Australian

Ex-governor jailed for Timor carnage

By Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent

July 19, 2004

INDONESIA has jailed its first ringleader of human rights atrocities in the East Timor carnage of 1999.

Former East Timor governor Abilio Soares originally was convicted in 2002 of gross crimes against humanity.

He has consistently maintained his innocence and blamed the Indonesian armed forces and their militia proxies for the bloody violence.

"I realise I am only a scapegoat in this case," he said on Saturday, before being taken to Jakarta's Cipinang prison. "I believe the world understands that military and police officers should be held responsible for the riots in East Timor."

Indonesia's Ad Hoc Tribunal on Human Rights found Soares guilty of abetting the violence that roared through East Timor before and after the ballot for independence and killed as many as 1500 East Timorese and laying the half-island to waste.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision in April, and formally sentenced Soares to three years in prison.

Spawned by international pressure but widely described as a whitewash, the ad hoc tribunal tried 18 suspects for human rights violations. Of the mainly military and police officers tried, it convicted six.

The Soares case is the only tribunal conviction upheld by the Supreme Court and, with only two more to be heard, it could be the last.

Soares has now been accommodated in the suite of luxury cells once used by former dictator Suharto's son, Tommy Suharto, befitting his status as a former governor, according to the prosecution.

Although Soares was not found culpable of direct violence, his second-in-command in East Timor, Rajakarina Brahmana, had told the tribunal that between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the total provincial government's budget in 1999 was spent on the anti-independence cause, including paying for the militias who wreaked havoc throughout the province.

As governor, Soares had ultimate control of the budget.

Soares also leant support to those opposing independence. He was at a militia rally in Dili in April 1999, where militia commander Eurico Guterres said pro-independence leaders should be killed.

Later that day, the militias burst into the house of opposition leader Manuel Carrascalao, killing 12 people including his 18-year-old son.

Last Tuesday, Central Jakarta Court permitted Soares's lawyers to submit a request for a judicial review to the Supreme Court - his last judicial port of call.

The new evidence, required for the judicial review, includes testimony from two former civil servants who worked in East Timor at the time.

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