Ex Timorese militia leader found guilty

Wednesday 27 November 2002 16.25
Ex Timorese militia leader found guilty

An Indonesian court has found a former pro-Jakarta militia leader, Eurico Guterres, guilty of crimes against humanity over a massacre in East Timor in 1999. He has been jailed for ten years.

Judges at a human rights court in Indonesia said a speech by Guterres to his militia members in April 1999 'raised a feeling of vengeance and a desire to kill' against supporters of independence in the half-island territory.

Guterres was tried over charges that he failed to stop his militiamen staging a massacre of independence supporters in the refugee-packed house of Manuel Carrascalao in the Timorese capital Dili, on April 17, 1999.

At least 12 people including Mr Carrascalao's 16-year-old son, Manuelito, were killed.

According to court documents and witnesses, Guterres urged his militiamen at a rally beforehand to kill all independence supporters.

Guterres headed the Aitarak militia which terrorised Dili and its surrounding areas before and after an August 1999 referendum in which 80% of the people of East Timor opted for independence.

Aitarak was one of a number of militias which were armed and organised by the Indonesian military and waged a campaign of terror in the lead-up to and in the immediate aftermath of the vote. An estimated 1,000 people were killed in the violence.

Anicetto Guterres, an East Timorese lawyer and member of the leading Yayasan Hak human rights organization, said responsibility for the crimes should not end with 28-year-old Eurico Guterres.

The militia leader is one of 18 police, military or other officials who have appeared before the human rights court in Indonesia, which was created following international pressure for justice over war crimes committed in East Timor in 1999.

However in widely criticized verdicts, the court has already acquitted six officers including the former East Timor police chief, and sentenced the former provincial governor to just three years in jail.

Two generals and a colonel are still awaiting judgment from the human rights court for their alleged role in the violence. But the most senior Indonesian officers have not been charged.