24 June 2012

Mass grave found in grounds of Xanana Gusmao's Dili office

The Jakarta Post 06/21/2012 5:05 PM - Twenty four bodies were recovered on Wednesday from a mass grave that was accidentally found in the garden of the office of Timor Leste's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in Dili last week by several construction workers.

The workers were digging the ground to construct pipes for the park's new water fountain.

Timor Leste's detective chief Calistro Gonzaga told Tempo on Wednesday that he believed more bodies would be found in the mass tomb. He added that his office would summon an anthropologist from Australia to help identify the bodies.

"We will try our best to identify all of the bodies as soon as possible. We will announce the names once all the victims are identified," he said.

A number of technicians from Bantuan Tenaga Kerja Group, a water construction company, initially found 13 bodies that were buried in a 3 square-meter hole about 2 meters deep on Monday last week.

The country's State Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Marito Reis, said separately that he had suspected the bodies were the victims of a massacre during the announcement of Timor Leste's independence in 1999.

He also suspected that one of the bodies was the former Indonesian professional boxer, Thomas Americo, who had been missing since 1999.

A member of the forensic team who refused to be named told Tempo that the result of the identification process would be announced next week.

Timor Leste was an Indonesian province before becoming an independent state in 1999 through a United Nations-organized referendum.

The country will hold a parliamentary election on July 7. (asa)

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