LOLOTOE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY TRIAL SET TO BEGIN
The trial of two former pro-autonomy militia commanders and a former village chief accused of participating in Crimes Against Humanity during and after the 1999 Popular Consultation is scheduled to begin tomorrow, 8 February, in Dili.
The so-called “Lolotoe case” against Kaer Metin Merah Putih (KMP) militia commanders João França da Silva (alias Jhoni França) and José Cardoso Ferreira (alias Mouzhino) and former Guda village chief Sabino Gouveia Leite will be the second of 10 priority Crimes Against Humanity cases to be tried by East Timor’s Special Panel for Serious Crimes.
The three have been charged with a total of 27 Crimes Against Humanity and are awaiting trial in a Dili prison. The two KMP commanders are accused of illegal imprisonment, murder, torture, rape, persecution and inhumane treatment of civilians. Sabino Gouveia Leite is accused of being an accomplice in the offences committed by the KMP and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).
In addition, the indictment states that the KMP militia threatened to kill pro-independence inhabitants of Lolotoe sub-district, in the western district of Bobonaro, in the run-up to the 30 August 1999 UN-administered Popular Consultation. It adds that the KMP collaborated with soldiers of the TNI before and after the consultation, carrying out campaigns of orchestrated violence and terrorizing civilians perceived as independence supporters.
Two others named in the original February 2001 indictment filed by UNTAET’s Prosecutor General – the TNI Commander of Lolotoe sub-district, 2nd Lt. Bambang Indra, and Francisco Noronha, an Indonesian civil servant – are still at large and believed to be in West Timor, Indonesia. Special Panel judges granted a request from prosecutors in May 2001 to split the original indictment, allowing trial preparations of the three in custody to proceed.
Prosecutors plan to call about 36 witnesses to give testimony. The trial is expected to last about six weeks.
One priority case has already gone to trial – the “Lospalos case” that ended on 11 December 2001 with all 10 accused present in court being convicted of committing a range of Crimes Against Humanity offences in East Timor’s easternmost Lautem district in 1999.
MINISTERS ENDORSE PROPOSAL TO COMBAT TAX EVASION
East Timor’s Finance Ministry will invite Australia to initiate negotiations on how both countries can assist each other in fighting tax evasion. The decision follows today’s Council of Minister’s endorsement of a proposal presented by Minister of Finance Fernanda Borges.
East Timor’s goal is to sign an agreement with Australia under which both countries agree to exchange information and assist one another in recovering taxes.
The Council also approved the new organic structure of the Secretariat of State for Labour and Solidarity as proposed by Secretary of State Arsénio Paixão Bano.
In addition, the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, Gregório Sousa, presented the conclusions of the inter-ministerial commission set up last week to study the issue of translating UNTAET regulations. He announced that 40 regulations and 20 directives need to be translated from English into Portuguese. In relation to that, the Council agreed with Justice Minister Ana Pessoa’s proposal to create a “harmonization commission” to oversee the quality and the terminology of the translations.