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NZ Welcomes Bere Verdict

7 March 2002 Media Statement

NZ Welcomes Bere Verdict But Disappointed With Sentence

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the New Zealand Government welcomed the guilty verdict handed down to the killer of Private Leonard Manning, the New Zealand soldier killed in East Timor in July 2000, but believes the sentence is too light.

Yacobus Bere was today in Jakarta found guilty of second degree murder of Private Manning and sentenced to six years in jail.

Helen Clark said that the guilty verdict would be a relief to the family of Private Manning. The New Zealand Government, however, would be asking the Indonesian authorities whether or not they will appeal the length of sentence. It is understood that they have seven days in which to lodge an appeal.

“It has been over a year and a half since the killing of Leonard Manning. I know the family will be relieved that the killer has been successfully prosecuted.

“We are disappointed at the short length of sentence given the gravity of the crime, and will ask the Indonesian authorities whether they will look at grounds for an appeal. The maximum sentence for second degree murder is 15 years, and the prosecutor had recommended that Bere receive 12 years. We agree that the killing warranted a longer sentence.

“It was a tragedy that Private Manning died while on duty as a UN peacekeeper in East Timor on 24 July 2000. He was a member of the NZ Battalion in the UN peacekeeping force in East Timor, with a mandate to protect the people and territory of East Timor.

“The New Zealand Government thanks the Indonesian authorities for both apprehending and prosecuting Leonard Manning’s killer. New Zealand Embassy staff in Jakarta observed the trial and advise that the prosecution was handled professionally and competently,” Helen Clark said.

Verdicts in the trials of the three other men accused of involvement in the murder of Private Manning are expected towards the end of this month.


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