- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia The United Nations in East Timor is taking a tougher line against Indonesia's refusal to extradite those charged in an orgy of violence as the territory moved toward independence 2 years ago.

For the first time, U.N. prosecutors are seeking warrants from the international police network, Interpol, for a number of militiamen and Indonesian soldiers charged with crimes against humanity.

U.N. officials based in the East Timor capital of Dili now serve as advisers to a fledgling East Timorese government in the half-island territory as it prepares to become the world's newest independent state on May 20.

In that capacity, U.N. prosecutors on Monday charged the region's most notorious militia leader, Eurico Guterres, with crimes against humanity.

In addition to Mr. Guterres, the indictment named eight other militiamen and eight Indonesian soldiers in connection with a murderous rampage on April 17, 1999, when 12 persons were beaten, stabbed and shot to death at the home of independence leader Manuel Carrascalao in Dili.

Despite the indictment, Mr. Guterres remains free to stroll the streets of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, where he readily gives interviews to reporters. Indonesian authorities say there is no written agreement governing extraditions to East Timor.

"I won't surrender myself to them because I'm Indonesian," Mr. Guterres told The Washington Times.

Indonesia signed an agreement pledging to cooperate with East Timor in judicial matters but has refused to extradite any suspects named in earlier U.N. indictments for crimes against humanity.

Along with Mr. Guterres, all of the other accused in the latest indictment are believed to be in Indonesia.

Although it is not yet an independent state or a member of Interpol, East Timor recently obtained the right to send arrest warrants to the international police agency, meaning that Mr. Guterres and the other 16 accused will now be subject to arrest if they leave Indonesia.

Mr. Guterres, 33, is charged in his capacity as leader of the Dili-based Aitarak militia as well as deputy commander of the so-called Pro-Integration Forces, which grouped all East Timor's militias ahead of the Aug. 30, 1999, referendum in which East Timorese overwhelmingly voted to separate from Indonesia.

The U.N. indictment states that he urged his followers to capture supporters of independence and shoot them if they resisted. He reportedly said he would take full responsibility for his orders.

The indictment against Mr. Guterres includes one count referring to the 12 deaths at Mr. Carrascalao's house. Another count deals with the persecution of civilians as part of widespread attacks in an unsuccessful attempt to influence the outcome of the independence referendum.

The indictment marks the latest in a series of steps to expand U.N. oversight of human rights abuses. In The Hague, former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic is on trial for war crimes. A separate tribunal has been established for the 1994 Rwandan massacre, and the United Nations is in the process of setting up a tribunal to prosecute crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war.

Recently the United Nations pulled out of a five-year attempt to set another tribunal for Cambodian genocide during the 1975-1979 rule of the Khmer Rouge.

Unlike other U.N. attempts to prosecute human rights abusers, the East Timor indictments do not involve a specially created tribunal but rather separate trials before a panel of judges specially designated to hear these cases.

Mr. Guterres was recently seen in the spectators' gallery of a Jakarta courthouse, where he was observing the trial of another militiaman, Yacobus Bere, who is charged with manslaughter in the death of New Zealand peacekeeper Pvt. Leonard Manning in July of 2000. Mr. Manning was gunned down while patrolling for militia along East Timor's border with Indonesian West Timor.

West Timor police later arrested Mr. Bere.

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