Timorese jailed in Dili and Jakarta

Issue 

Timorese jailed in Dili and Jakarta

By Norm Dixon

While Indonesian authorities have yet to charge any military officer or soldier for their role in the massacre in Dili on November 12, several East Timorese who survived the killings or organised protests against it have been jailed for long prison terms.

On May 19, a Jakarta court sentenced Virgilio da Silva Guttierez to 30 months in jail for participating in a November 19 Jakarta protest. Da Silva, an East Timorese engineering student at a university in East Java, has already spent six months in months in jail after being arrested for "expressing hostility towards the government".

The sentence is the toughest yet against students who attended the peaceful demonstration, which petitioned the United Nations mission and the Australian embassy to take action to end Indonesia's rule over East Timor. Another East Timorese student, Domingus Barreto, was sentenced to six months for "disrupting public order".

Da Silva defiantly told the court he remained hostile to Indonesia's illegal annexation of East Timor and that the callous shooting of mourners by Indonesian soldiers only strengthened his opposition.

On May 21, another student, Agapito Cordoso, was sentenced to 10 months for joining the November 19 protest.

In Dili on May 25, Fernando de Araujo was jailed for nine years on subversion charges arising from his participation in the November 12 procession to Santa Cruz cemetery. High Court Judge Wahono Baoed said that de Araujo was "guilty of undermining the Indonesian government and disgracing the nation in the eyes of the international community".

As soon as the judge finished reading the verdict, de Araujo stood up and raised a victory salute. "I want to say once again that I am not Indonesian", he declared. "It is unethical that [this sentence] is imposed on an East Timorese who is fighting for his rights and freedom", he told reporters after the trial.

A further nine East Timorese await trial. State prosecutors have demanded that Gregorio da Cunha Saldanha, a former employee at the main hospital in Dili, be sentenced to life imprisonment. He is accused of leading an organisation supporting the independence movement.

Prosecutors have demanded sentences of up to 10 years for Juvencio de Jesus Martin and Jacinto Raimunda Alves, who, they claim, organised the procession that was fired on by Indonesian troops. Prosecutors accuse both of being active supporters of Fretilin.

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