LOLOTOE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANTIY TRIAL UNDERWAY
One of East Timor’s 10 major Crimes Against Humanity cases went to trial today – the so-called “Lolotoe case” against two pro-autonomy militia commanders and a former village chief accused of participating in a campaign of deadly terror that surrounded the 1999 UN-sponsored ballot on the future of the Southeast Asian territory.
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 have been charged with a total of 27 Crimes Against Humanity.
The two KMP commanders are accused of illegal imprisonment, murder, torture, rape, persecution and inhumane treatment of civilians in Lolotoe sub-district, near the border of West Timor, Indonesia. Sabino Gouveia Leite is accused of being an accomplice in the offences committed by the KMP and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).
Two others named in the original February 2001 indictment filed at East Timor’s Special Panel for Serious Crimes – the TNI Commander of Lolotoe, 2nd Lt. Bambang Indra, and Francisco Noronha, an Indonesian civil servant – are still at large and believed to be in West Timor. The Panel’s three judges granted a request from prosecutors in May 2001 to split the original indictment, allowing trial preparations of the three in custody to proceed.
Opening statements planned for today were delayed by disagreements on whether witness lists must be submitted by the prosecution and defence. UNTAET prosecutors argued that witness lists should have been submitted during pre-trial hearings, while the UN-appointed attorney of França da Silva countered that six witnesses he intended to call required protective measures to ensure their testimony.
Judge Sylver Ntukamazina urged for any pre-trial matters to be raised immediately and ruled that witness lists and summaries of their expected testimonies must be provided by the prosecution and defence within seven days. The trial was adjourned until 22 February.
The Lolotoe case is the second of 10 priority cases to be tried by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes. The first – known as the “Lospalos case” – ended on 11 December 2001 with all 10 accused present in court convicted of committing a range of Crimes Against Humanity offences in East Timor’s easternmost Lautem district in 1999.
JAPANESE ENGINEERS TO ARRIVE IN EAST TIMOR ON MARCH 4
A 46-member advance party of Japanese engineers is scheduled to arrive in East Timor early next month to make preparations for the subsequent arrival of Japanese peacekeepers.
A full contingent of 677 members of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) is scheduled to arrive in East Timor in two deployments, the first on 23 and 24 March, and the second on 11 April.
The majority of the peacekeepers will be deployed in the western sector of East Timor, taking over responsibility from the Pakistan and Bangladesh engineers who will soon be repatriated as part of UNTAET’s downsizing of the Peacekeeping Force.
The Japanese Engineering Battalion will be organized into three engineering companies and one support company. The engineering companies will be deployed in Oecussi, Suai and Maliana districts, while the support company and the battalion headquarters will be located in Dili.
In a related development, 21 members of a Singaporean Medical Team stationed at the United Nations Hospital in Dili left East Timor earlier this week without replacement.
The repatriation is in conjunction with the Peacekeeping Force’s scheduled downsizing that will reduce UNTAET’s authorized 8,000 troops to 5,000 by the middle of this year.
The Singaporean Medical Team had served the UNTAET mission for six months, during which time their work included training six East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) personnel on basic peacetime healthcare services and medical support in the field.
Last October 2001, the Singapore Government donated S$30,000 worth of medical equipment and supplies to the ETDF.
100 WASTE BUNKERS TO BE CONSTRUCTED THROUGHOUT DILI
Materials were delivered to the Nain Feto area of Dili today to construct the first of 100 waste bunkers in neighbourhoods throughout the capital.
The US$31,000 UN-funded Quick Impact Project is part of an overall sanitation plan agreed upon in close consultation with local-level leaders who will be responsible for teaching their communities about their use.
Residents of the capital will be expected to put non-flammable or recyclable rubbish in the bunkers. They will be emptied on a weekly basis by three or four private East Timorese companies contracted by Dili District authorities.
All 100 waste bunkers are expected to be constructed and in use by early April.