|Subject: JP: Court's East Timor verdicts
Also ABC: Interview with Mario Carrascalao
March 15, 2006
Court's East Timor verdicts under fire
Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Supreme Court has come under fire for its decision to release an Army general charged with atrocities before East Timor's independence vote in 1999, with observers saying the verdict once again discriminated in favor of the security forces.
The court reinstated a 10-year jail term for former pro-Jakarta militia leader Eurico Guterres on Monday for his role in the atrocities. Guterres had been found guilty by an ad hoc human rights court of crimes against humanity in the former province.
However, the court acquitted from similar charges Brig. Gen. A. Nur Muis, a former chief of the now-defunct Wira Dharma military command that oversaw East Timor during the ballot.
The court has never found any middle- or high-ranking military and police officers guilty of involvement in the atrocities.
Andi Widjajanto, a military analyst from the University of Indonesia (UI), said Tuesday the country's judicial system had again failed to bring security personnel to justice over the East Timor violence.
The latest verdict would give human rights activists new impetus to push for the prosecution of Indonesian security officials through the International Criminal Court, he said.
"It has become a big question as to whether the prosecutors intentionally created such weak charges against the servicemen in a bid to provide 'legal loopholes' for the judicial panels to free them," Andi told The Jakarta Post
"If the prosecutors are serious about giving East Timorese victims of the violence justice ... they must review all the reports on the East Timor crimes to find out whether there is still a possibility of bringing the servicemen back to court by charging them under the 2000 Law on the ad hoc human rights tribunal."
Separately, noted human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis sarcastically wondered why the judges did not simply acquit all the suspects in the East Timor violence, including the civilians, instead of "unfairly giving legal privileges to the servicemen".
The panel of judges ruled Muis was not responsible for two attacks on pro-independence supporters on Sept. 5 and 6, 1999, despite being responsible for keeping order during the months in the lead up to the ballot.
However in the verdict against Guterres, four of the five panel judges reinstated a 10-year jail term earlier issued by the ad hoc human rights tribunal in 2002.
Guterres, who headed the Aitarak, or thorn militia, was convicted for an attack on East Timor refugees taking shelter at a house belonging to pro-independence figure Manuel Viegas Carrascalao on April 17, 1999, four months before the independence ballot.
Twelve people, not 14 as reported by the Post on Tuesday, were killed in the attack, including Carrascalao's son.
Guterres was the second civilian convicted for the human rights violations, which took place around the vote. In April 2004, another -- former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares -- was sentenced to three years in prison by the Supreme Court. Eight months later he was acquitted of all charges because of new evidence.
Radio Australia March 15, 2006 -transcript-
Indonesia: Former Militia Leader Gets Ten Years Jail
Indonesia's Supreme Court has reinstated the ten year jail sentence of the former militia leader Eurico Guterres for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. The original sentence had been handed down in 2002 by Indonesia's ad hoc human rights court but reduced to five years on appeal and Guterres has yet to serve any time. Guterres headed the notorious Aitarak or Thorn militia which terrorized Dili's residents ahead of the U-N organised referendum on independence.
Presenter/Interviewer: Karon Snowdon
Speakers: Mario Carrascalao, Special Advisor to East Timor's President and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party.
SNOWDON: In one incident linked to the militia led by Eurico Guterres, in April 1999, at least 12 people died as they sheltered in the house of Manuel Carrascalao, among those killed was Carrascalao's teenage son.
Indonesian backed Timorese militia intimidated independence activists ahead of the referendum and after the overwhelming yes vote, they took revenge, going on a rampage of killing and destruction.
At the time of the first court hearing in 2002 and just ahead of his sentencing, Eurico Guterres was still defiant.
GUTERRES: I would not accept the judges decision, even for one day, or for one hour. Because what I did was for Indonesia.
SNOWDON: Two years later his sentence was halved on appeal, but this week, the Supreme Court reinstated the original ten year gaol term with a vote of four to one.
Manuel Carrascalao's brother, Mario was the Governor of East Timor for a decade from 1982.
CARRASCALAO: My brother's house was attacked. They killed my nephew. I do also have an audio cassette where he encouraged the militias to kill Mario Carrascalao, myself and my brother.
SNOWDON: Indonesia's internationally scorned ad hoc tribunal has acquitted all police and military officers accused of responsibility for or involvement in the atrocities in East Timor.
Prosecutors in the Guterres case have reportedly vowed to have him arrested.
If Guterres serves gaol time he will be the only one of 18 who faced charges in Indonesia to do so.
East Timor's own Serious Crimes Unit has indicted hundreds of offenders but Jakarta has taken no action.
In addition a UN backed report in January accused Indonesia of massive violent crimes during its occupation of East Timor between 1975 and 1999.
Mario Carrascalao who doesn't believe justice has been fully served in the Guterres case, now works as Special Advisor to East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao who favours reconciliation with Indonesia.
CARRASCALAO: For me they make justice, because it was an illegal war, many people here suffer it and many people were being killed here and many people ran away but who was behind Eurico Gutteres. I believe it's from the armed forces and the police, they were behind that. Because when they attacked my brother's house, and killed my nephew, many people saw that there was the military. It is good that the supreme court arranged a ten year sentence, because he deserve it.
SNOWDON: And do you think that the reinstatement by the supreme court of the ten year sentence is a sign that Indonesia has taken the issue a little more seriously since the publication of the United Nations report, perhaps?
CARRASCALAO: Yeah, that's a better Indonesia for sure.
SNOWDON: And personally for you Mr Carrascalao, are you reconciling with Indonesia and with the Timorese militia after this time? Are you feeling that reconciliation is possible?
CARRASCALAO: No, for me of course I agree with the reconciliation, because you cannot leave the force as the enemy, so we have to really reconciliate with each other, but we should not forget justice.
----------- Joyo Indonesia News Service