26 January 2014

Former member of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia tried at the Dili District Court

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ETLJB 26/01/2014 - The East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on proceedings in the Dili District Court concerning crimes against humanity allegedly committed by a member of the former militia group, Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Steel), which, with the support of the Indonesian state, terrorised and murdered independence supporters during the Indonesian occupation; particularly during the referendum on autonomy in 1999. The text of the translation follows.

On 20 January 2014 the Dili District Court tried a case involving serious crimes that occurred on 4 September 1999, in Liquica District. This case involved the defendant LV, a member of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia, who was accused of committing crimes against humanity in Liquica District.

“JSMP is happy to see the courts continuing to try crimes against humanity cases to provide justice to victims, to ensure accountability for past crimes and to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future. Therefore, JSMP urges the court actors and all parties involved in this process to deal with these cases in a serious manner befitting the nature and severity of this matter”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.  

JSMP is very concerned because cases involving crimes against humanity are of a very different nature and scale to ordinary crimes. What’s more, in 2011 the Dili District Court already convicted the defendant Valente Lavio for committing crimes against humanity in Liquica District, however currently the convicted person is moving around freely and enjoying his impunity in Indonesia because he absconded when his appeal was still being processed. Until now there has been no effort or commitment on the part of the competent bodies such as the Office of the Prosecutor General and other relevant institutions to bring the convicted person back to Timor-Leste to be held accountable and to obey the decision of the court.

To anticipate similar circumstances in this case, JSMP requested for the court to apply appropriate restrictive measures while the trial is ongoing.

The indictment of the public prosecutor, which was read out to the court, stated that on 4 September 1999 the defendant together with other members of the Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia, with the support of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and the Indonesian Police (POLRI) slapped, punched, kicked and shot dead the victims Jacarias Alves, Duarte dos Santos, Agusto, Markus, Jaime Soares, Domingos and Leopoldo in Liquica District.

In fact there were 58 defendants who were allegedly involved in this case, but the court is only trying the defendant LV because the other defendants have not returned to Timor-Leste and are still living in Indonesia, and several of the defendants have passed away. In relation to this case, the public prosecutor and public defender presented a list of 132 witnesses.

The trial is being conducted by a panel of judges led by Julio Gantes, together with Pedro Raposo de Fiqueredo and Jumiati Freitas. The public prosecution service was represented by Luis Landim and the Office of the Public Defender was represented by Manuel Exposto.

The trial will continue on 10 February 2014, at 7am to hear testimony from the defendant and witnesses. Source: JSMP Press Release 20 January 2014 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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