ELECTORAL COMMISSIONERS START WORK IN EAST TIMOR
The newly appointed Board of Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission of East Timor received their first briefing on the electoral process today in Dili, ahead of their first official session on Wednesday, 20 February.
The five Commissioners - three East Timorese and two internationals - were appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week to supervise the presidential elections in East Timor, set for 14 April. The Board will remain in session until April 20, when the certified results will be announced.
The three East Timorese Commissioners are: Benjamin Corte Real, Director of the University of East Timor; Antero Benedito da Silva, former head of the NGO Forum; and Maria Aurora dos Reis, Director of the Christian Children's Fund in East Timor. The two internationals are Argentine Horácio Boneo, former director of the United Nations' Electoral Assistance Division and currently an electoral and governance consultant; and Fijian Walter Rigamoto, the Supervisor of Elections in Fiji.
The Board will settle disputes related to the electoral process, ensure respect for the electoral regulation and international standards for a democratic election, and certify the election results and transmit them to the Secretary-General through his Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
EURICO GUTERRES INDICTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Militia commander Eurico Guterres and 16 other militia and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) members were indicted today for various Crimes Against Humanity relating their participation in a rampage of deadly violence in April 1999.
The charges - including murder, persecution and other inhumane acts - result from an investigation into a 17 April 1999 pro-autonomy rally in Dili that climaxed in a wave of militia violence against East Timorese civilians perceived as independence supporters.
During a press conference, Deputy SRSG Dennis McNamara described the indictment as "a very important step" in UNTAET's efforts to bring to justice those who committed atrocities in the months surrounding the UN-sponsored Popular Consultation on the future of East Timor.
The indictment accuses Guterres, leader of the Aitarak militia, of urging his followers to arrest anti-autonomy individuals and shoot any that resisted.
Guterres then led a convoy of militiamen around the capital, attacking civilians and dwellings perceived as pro-independence, the indictment states. The rampage resulted in 13 deaths, nine serious injuries and widespread destruction of property. Twelve of the 13 fatalities occurred during an attack on the home of Manuel Viegas Carrascalão, where more than 100 pro-independence supporters were sheltering.