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Two Soldiers Charged For Killing Dutch Journalist

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EAST TIMOR INDICTS TWO INDONESIAN SOLDIERS FOR MURDER OF DUTCH JOURNALIST

by Michael Casey Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Two Indonesian soldiers were among seven people indicted Wednesday in East Timor for killing a Dutch journalist and 19 others during the country's independence struggle in 1999, the United Nations said in a statement.

Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes was the last person killed in a murderous rampage across the former Indonesian province in September 1999 by Battalion 745, the statement said.

The Serious Crimes Unit's indictment of Maj. Jacob Sarosa and Lt. Camilo dos Santos, both members of the battalion, marks the first time anyone has been charged in the Thoenes murder. Indonesia has argued it lacks evidence to charge anyone, despite receiving information from Dutch authorities that allegedly links the battalion to Thoenes' death.

It remains unclear, however, if the two soldiers will ever see a courtroom for Thoenes' murder.

Both are on active duty with the Indonesia military, and Indonesia has so far refused to hand over eight other Indonesians charged in East Timor for 1999 war crimes.

U.N. officials said the indictment also challenges the Indonesian government's claim that its soldiers played only a minor role in the bloodshed that followed a U.N. referendum in which East Timorese voted for independence.

The U.N. has long blamed the Indonesia military and its militia proxies for the violence that left nearly 1,000 dead and forced 250,000 to flee their homes.

Battalion commander dos Santos and platoon commander Sarosa are charged with 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including Thoenes' murder.

Thoenes was forced off his motorbike and shot dead in East Timor's capital, Dili, Sept. 21, 1999. He died soon arriving in the city to report on the arrival of an international peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops.

In Wednesday's other indictment, five members of the Mahadomi militia _ including its commander and a former district chief _ are charged with 13 counts of crimes against humanity.

TIMOR-LESTE INDICTS MILITIA MEMBERS, INDONESIAN OFFICERS FOR 1999 CRIMES - UN MISSION

UN News New York, Nov 6 2002 12:00PM

The serious crimes unit in Timor-Leste today issued two new indictments, including the first-ever charges filed against Indonesian military officers for their conduct independent of their involvement with militia groups during the territory's popular consultation in 1999, the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) announced today.

The indictments were filed with the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court, UNMISET said. One of the indictments involves crimes allegedly committed by five members of the Mahadomi militia in Manatuto District during 1999. One of the five is the former district chief and the founder and commander of the militia group while the other four men were section commanders.

The indictment contains 13 charges of crimes against humanity. Five of the counts concern the murder of six men in May and September 1999, while the other counts include charges of torture, imprisonment, persecution and deportation committed within Manatuto between May and October 1999. The five accused are all believed to be currently residing in Indonesia.

The second indictment concerns two Indonesian officers who were members of the Indonesian Battalion 745 that was stationed in Lautem District during 1999. One of the accused was the commanding officer of the battalion and the other a platoon commander.

The indictment charges 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including 14 counts of murder in which members of Battalion 745 are alleged to have killed 21 civilians during September 1999. Many of the civilians were killed during the Battalion's withdrawal from East Timor, as they travelled overland from Lautem to Dili. Included within the charges is the murder of Sander Thoenes, a Dutch journalist who was allegedly killed by members of Battalion 745 in Dili on 21 September 1999.

Both of the accused are believed to be residing in Indonesia at the present time, UNMISET said.

Arrest warrants for the all of the accused have been requested from the Dili District Court. Once received by the General Prosecutor, these will be forwarded to the Attorney General of Indonesia. The arrest warrants will also be forwarded to INTERPOL, which Timor-Leste joined late last month.

+++niuswire

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