Special Panels for
Serious Crimes in East Timor
Last updated on 18 November 2005
27 June 2005: The UN Secretary General submits the report of the UN Commission of Experts to the Security Council. In its findings the Commission concludes that judicial processes in both East Timor and Indonesia have "not yet achieved full accountability of those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of human rights committed in East Timor in 1999." The Commission acknowledges that the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor has attained a "notable degree of accountability" despite inadequate resources, insufficient support from East Timor, and no cooperation from Indonesia, and recommends that it be provisionally retained. On the other hand, the Commission finds that the prosecutions before the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for Timor-Leste were "manifestly inadequate" and that the judicial process revealed "scant respect for or conformity to relevant international standards." The Commission recommends that Indonesia re-open prosecutions as appropriate before the Ad Hoc Court, and that the Security Council establish an ad hoc international criminal tribunal for Timore-Leste if this and other recommendations are not implemented by Indonesia within six months.
20 May 2005: The Special Panels mandate ends with no trials currently pending. In total, the Special Panels tried 87 defendants in 55 trials, with 84 convicted of crimes against humanity and other charges and three acquitted of all charges. A total of six serious crimes cases were heard by the Court of Appeal, and another six remain pending. Since 2000, the Special Panels issued 95 indictments, covering 440 people; 270 arrest warrants were issued and four warrant requests were denied. Twelve defendants had their cases withdrawn or dismissed and one was declared unfit to stand trial. A total of 339 people remain outside the jurisdiction of the court, nearly all are presumed to be in Indonesia.
18-20 May 2005: The Commission of Experts tasked with reviewing the serious crimes accountability processes in both East Timor and Indonesia visits Indonesia after initially being refused entry visas.
18 May 2005: The Secretary-General reports that the Serious Crimes Unit has met with communities in 12 districts to inform them of the closure of the serious crimes process on 20 May 2005 and of the progress achieved to date. Many participants, particularly families of the victims of the 1999 violence, have expressed concern that the process was ending prematurely. Meanwhile, the Serious Crimes Unit, the Defence Lawyers Unit and the Special Panels for serious crimes are finalizing the laborious process of handing over all relevant documentation related to the serious crimes process to the Timorese authorities.
12 May 2005: The Special Panels conducts its final hearing. Laksaur militia members Sisto Barros and Cesar Mendonca are each sentenced to nine years imprisonment for crimes against humanity (murder, persecution, attempted murder). Josep Nahak, who was originally listed in the indictment, was declared unfit to stand trial earlier this year. The charges relate to the Suai church massacre in September 1999, in which 31 people were killed.
29 April 2005: The Commission of Experts writes the Secretary-General to request that the liquidation of the Serious Crimes Unit be suspended and that measures be considered to safeguard the institutional knowledge of the serious crimes process until the findings of the Commission have been submitted and the Security Council has had a chance to consider them. The Secretary-General decides to retain ten staff members of the Serious Crimes Unit through the liquidation process, including an international judge, a prosecutor, a legal officer and administrative assistants.
28 April 2005: In resolution 1599, the Security Council "underlines the need for the United Nations Secretariat, in agreement with Timor-Leste authorities, to preserve a complete copy of all the records compiled by the Serious Crimes Unit, calls on all parties to cooperate fully with the work of the Secretary-General's Commission of Experts, and looks forward to the Commission's upcoming report exploring possible ways to address this issue, including ways of assisting the Truth and Friendship Commission, which Indonesia and Timor-Leste have agreed to establish."
19 April 2005: Julio Fernandes is acquitted of three charges of crimes against humanity (persecution, deportation or forcible transfer of population, other inhumane acts), and found guilty of property destruction under the Indonesian Penal Code. Fernandes receives a one-year suspended sentence.
19 April 2005: Ruldolfo Alves Correia, a former Indonesian Army soldier, is convicted of crimes against humanity (attempted murder) and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
19 April 2005: Two former members of the Sakunar militia are convicted of crimes against humanity for activities related to the Passabe massacre in September 1999, in which 47 men were systematically killed. Januario Da Costa is convicted on the basis of both personal and command responsibility for murder and other inhumane acts, acquitted of deportation and persecution, and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Mateus Punef is convicted of murder and other inhumane acts, acquitted of persecution, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
26 April 2005: General Suhartono Suratman is named chief spokesman for the Indonesian military. In 2003, the Special Court indicted him for the crimes against humanity of murder, deportation and persecution stemming from his role as a local military commander during the 1999 referendum, but Indonesia has not handed him over for trial. He was also one of 18 Indonesian military and government officials tried in 2003 by the Indonesian ad hoc human rights court for his role in the 1999 violence, however he was acquitted of all charges.
9 March 2005: The Presidents of Indonesia and East Timor finalize and sign the terms of reference for a Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF). The Commission's findings are intended to establish a record of human rights violations occurring during the 1999 referendum and to recommend reconciliation measures. The ten-member CTF has no power to prosecute offenders, but has the authority to recommend amnesty for persons who cooperate fully in revealing the truth. The CTF is scheduled to commence its work no later than August 2005.
7 March 2005: The Indonesian Supreme Court upholds the acquittal of Brigadier General Suhartono "Tono" Suratman by the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor. Tono was the chief of the Wira Dharma military command in Dili during the 1999 referendum. His indictment states that he knew or should have known about crimes against humanity, including murder, committed by troops under his command and control.
4 March 2005: The United Nations appoints a three-member Commission of Experts to assess the progress made by the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor and the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in bringing to justice persons responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in East Timor in 1999, to determine if full accountability has been achieved, and to recommend methods for ensuring accountability. The Commission will also consider how its analysis can assist the Commission on Truth and Friendship proposed by Indonesia and East Timor.
3 March 2005: The Indonesian Constitutional Court rejects former East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Soares' challenge to the constitutionality of the Human Rights Tribunal Law under which he was convicted by the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court, holding that the law does not violate the constitutional prohibition on retroactivity. Soares was acquitted by the Indonesian Supreme Court after serving three years of his sentence.
1 March 2005: The SPSC finds Joseph Nahak incompetent to stand trial. Nahak is the first defendant to be found incompetent by the SPSC, in only the second competency hearing held by an international tribunal. Nahak is charged with crimes against humanity (murder, attempted murder, forcible deportation, and persecution) committed while he was part of the Laksaur militia group.
14 February 2005: The SPSC acquits Aprecio Guterres. Guterres was charged with crimes against humanity (murder) for killing 13 people in 1999. This is the SPSC's fourth acquittal.
28 January 2005: In the Aprecio Guterres case, the trial begins.
26 January 2005: It is announced that all probationary judges in the East Timor judiciary failed their evaluations and thus cannot continue working in the courts of East Timor. Nevertheless, two probationary judges will continue to work on the SPSC and two on the Court of Appeal.
22 December 2004: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with the foreign ministers of Indonesia and East Timor to discuss the continuing process of dealing with the alleged human rights violations committed in 1999. The U.S. government supports setting up a Commission of Experts to review the progress in prosecuting those most responsible.
21 December 2004: The foreign ministers of Indonesia and East Timor travel to New York to meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss the UN proposal for establishing a Commission of Experts to assess the effectiveness of the SPSC and the Indonesian ad hoc human rights court in prosecuting those responsible for serious crimes during the 1999 independence referendum. Indonesia and East Timor are expected to reject the idea due to a desire to maintain friendly relations between their countries.
21 December 2004: Indonesia and East Timor announce an agreement to form a joint "Truth and Friendship Commission" to look into violence surrounding the 1999 referendum as an alternative to the Commission of Experts proposed by the UN. The framework of the joint commission is expected to be worked out over the next few weeks, but its tasks are reported to include facilitating community reconciliation, reporting findings of truth-seeking efforts, and making recommendations for further action.
17 December 2004: The Serious Crimes Unit issues its final indictments. Fourteen individuals are charged with crimes against humanity in four separate indictments.
- In the Ainaro indictment, Julius Adu, a TNI sub-disctrict military commander, and Cesario Tilman, a former TNI soldier and company commander in the Mahidi militia, are charged with crimes against humanity involving the murder of five people, destruction of property, and the persecution and deportation of civilians from Ainaro district.
- In the Ermera indictment, Muhammad Nur, TNI military commander for the Ermera district, sergeants Melky and Hilario, and former Derah Merah militia commanders Lukas Martins, Jeca Pereira and Cipriano da Costa are charged with crimes against humanity involving 14 murders, the torture of two people, and the rape and murder of a woman.
- In the Manufahi indictments, the first indictment charges Nazario Vital dos Santos Corte Real, commander in the ABLAI militia; TNI soldier Sugyono, a co-founder of the ABLAI militia and local head of the Indonesian Special Forces; and Francisco Capela Ferrao, vice-commander of the ABLAI militia, with one count of crimes against humanity (persecution). The charge encompasses the killing of 19 people, attempted murder, serious bodily injury inflicted on four people, detention of hundreds of people, destruction of property, and forcible transfer of persons to West Timor.
- In the second Manufahi indictment, Guilhermino Marcal, ABLAI militia commander for Same sub-district; Sumino, military commander for the Same sub-district; and Jose Laranzeira, ABLAI militia company commander, are charged with crimes against humanity involving seven murders.
10 December 2004: Former Dili District Police Chief Hulman Gultom is indicted on charges of crimes against humanity (murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, persecution). Gultom is charged with superior criminal responsibility for the murder of 15 people, and superior and individual criminal responsibility for persecution and deportation or forcible transfer. He is at large and believed to be living in Indonesia.
8 December 2004: In the case of Julio Fernandes (case number 25/2003), the defendant is convicted of destruction of property under the Indonesian Penal Code (not as a crime against humanity), and given a one-year suspended sentence. Fernandes, a former TNI militia member, is acquitted of two counts of crimes against humanity (inhumane acts, deportation or forcible transfer of population).
6 December 2004: Five former militia leaders and members are indicted for crimes against humanity (murder) in the deaths of 19 people. Frans Tallo, a platoon commander in the Sako Loro Monu militia is charged with 11 murders committed between April and September 1999. In the second indictment, Tomas Lopen Maia Udin, former deputy company commander of the Mahidi militia, is charged with one murder and one attempted murder. In the third indictment, Alfredo Breok, a platoon commander in the Mahidi militia in Zumalai, is charged with two counts of murder. In the fourth indictment, Domingos Mau Buti and Adriano Mascimento are charged with rape, five counts of murder, and attempted murder, all of which occurred in June 1999.
1 December 2004: In the Dili Rally case, Marculino Soares is convicted of crimes against humanity (murder, persecution, other inhumane acts) in the April 1999 attack on a pro-independence house in Dili. Soares is sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for organizing and participating in the attack, which resulted in 12 deaths.
30 November 2004: Five military commanders are indicted for 11 counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, persecution [imprisonment in severe deprivation of liberty]) committed in Balibo. The five are Joao da Silva Tavares, head of the Integration Fighters Forces; Joao Oliveira, commander of the FIRMI militia; Joaquim Maia Pereira, deputy commander of the FIRMI militia; and Ruben Monteiro Goncalves and Ruben Tavares, joint commanders of the Sako Loro Monu militia. They are charged with the murder of 19 people and the torture and persecution of 26 people. All five are believed to be living outside of East Timor.
29 November 2004: The SPSC files an indictment charging seven former Mahidi militia commanders with crimes against humanity. Vasco Da Cruz, Domingos Alves, Guilhermino De Araujo, Napoleon dos Santos, Simao Tasion, Lino Barreto, and Cancio Lopes De Carvalho are charged with 20 counts of crimes against humanity (imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, murder, enforced disappearance, persecution [abduction and destruction of property], extermination and deportation or forcible transfer). The crimes, including the Suai Church massacre, occurred between March and September 1999 in Zumalai, Covalima District.
25 November 2004: In the Alarico Mesquita case, the SPSC issues its decision against eight former Aitarak militia members. Alarico Mesquita, Florindo Moreira, Domingos Amati and Francisco Matos are convicted of two counts of crimes against humanity (persecution [abduction] and torture). Mesquita and Florindo receive sentences of six years and eight months, while Amati and Matos receive six years each. Louren�o Tavares, Laurindo da Costa, Mateus Guterres and Angelino da Costa are convicted of the crime against humanity of torture and sentenced to five years each. The convictions stem from the abduction and torture of two independence supporters in Dili in May 1999.
16 November 2004: In the Mateus Lao case, the defendant, a member of the Sukunar militia, is found guilty of one count of crimes against humanity (murder) and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
16 November 2004: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution renewing UNMISET for a final six months until 20 May 2005. The Council instructs the mission "to focus increasingly on implementing its exit strategy." UNMISET funds the Special Panels for Serious Crimes.
8 November 2004: The Special Panels for Serious Crimes convicts and sentences Anton Lelan Sufa to seven years imprisonment after he enters a guilty plea. He was indicted on 15 February 2003 for crimes against humanity committed in Oecussi District on 16 September 1999.
4 November 2004: The Indonesian Supreme Court reverses the conviction of former East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares based on new evidence, overturning its previous decision in April upholding his conviction. The Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal sentenced Soares to three years in jail in 2002 on charges of gross human rights violations for failing to take actions to prevent violence in East Timor in 1999. Soares has been in prison since July 17, 2004.
4 November 2004: In the de Jesus case, the Court of Appeal of East Timor overturns the acquittal of Paulino de Jesus by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes. The Court finds sufficient evidence that de Jesus, while a member of the Indonesian army, committed crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder) in September 1999. De Jesus faces 12 years imprisonment.
29 October 2004: The Serious Crimes Unit files two new indictments with the Special Panels for Serious Crimes. One indictment charges Lieutenant Mohamad Roni and soldiers Joao da Costa and Domingos de Deus with crimes against humanity (murder) of two UNAMET election workers during the independence referendum at a polling station in Atsabe. The other indictment charges five members of the Indonesian army, including three district commanders, and two militia leaders with a series of crimes, including murder of six independence supporters, torture, deportation and widespread destruction of property committed in Viqueque.
27 October 2004: The Special Panels for Serious Crimes convicts Agustinho Cloe, Agustinho Cab, Lazarus Fuli, Lino Beno, Antonio Simao and Domingos Metan of crimes against humanity following their guilty pleas to two counts of murder and torture committed in a Netensuan village located in the Oecussi District on 16 September 1999. Charges against Lazarus Tael are withdrawn.
29 September 2004: The foreign minister of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, states at a press conference that neither he nor the President supports the establishment of an international tribunal. He says that the government of East Timor would offer a formal reaction to the recommendations from a panel of experts currently reviewing the work of the ad hoc human rights tribunal in Jakarta and the judicial process of the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Dili once they are finalized.
23-24 September 2004: Over 200 participants attend a strategic planning conference in Farol to discuss the future of the serious crimes process in East Timor. Among those in attendance are the various Timorese non-governmental organizations, the US Ambassador Grover Rees, the President of East Timor's Chief of Staff Agio Pereira, judges from the Special Panels for Serious Crimes, international NGOs and academics. The participants agree that an international tribunal would be the most important mechanism of justice for past international crimes. The participants also voice concern that the SPSC will conclude their work in May 2005 without having tried the majority of those that may be responsible for the serious crimes committed prior to and during 1999.
20 September 2004: Indonesia elects Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president. Yudhoyono is a former military commander and served under General Wiranto, who is wanted for war crimes by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes. During his time in the military, Yudhoyono completed several tours of duty in East Timor and was the Chief of Territorial Affairs during East Timor's violent transition to independence in 1999. He has no record of supporting prosecutions of high-ranking military and police personnel for crimes against humanity in East Timor.
7 September 2004: The Indonesian House of Representatives passes a bill to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate past military atrocities, including those that have occurred in East Timor. The 21-member commission will be based on the South African truth and reconciliation model and is scheduled to open in 2005. Activists fear the commission=s mandate, including its authority to provide amnesty to perpetrators of violent crimes whose victims won=t accept an apology, will preclude it from requiring accountability for commanders for past abuses.
30 August 2004: East Timor celebrates the five-year anniversary of its referendum vote for independence from Indonesia.
12 August 2004: Indonesia rejects calls by the international community, including New Zealand and the United States, for an international tribunal to prosecute Indonesian military officers accused of committing crimes in East Timor in 1999. East Timor supports the Indonesian position.
29 July 2004: An appeals court in Indonesia overturns four convictions by the Indonesian ad hoc tribunal against military officers implicated in the violence in East Timor in 1999. Of 18 people tried by the tribunal, 16, all Indonesian, have been acquitted, and two, both East Timorese, have been convicted.
26 July 2004: The Special Panels for Serious Crimes renders its final decision against Florencio Tacaqui, convicting him on five counts, acquitting him on three, and sentencing him to 12 years in prison. Tacaqui is acquitted of involvment in the Passabe Massacre, but convicted of criminal participation in the murder of eight people, persecution of CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance) members, and the commission of other inhumane acts.
19 July 2004: Special Panels indictee Abilio Soares begins his three-year sentence in an Indonesian prison. The former Indonesia-appointed governor of East Timor is the first of only a handful of people convicted by the ad hoc Indonesian Human Rights Court to begin serving time. Soares, an ethnic Timorese, says he is a scapegoat for Indonesian military and police officials who have been acquitted or not charged over the 1999 atrocities. Soares is still wanted for trial at the Special Panels in East Timor. East Timor President Xanana Gusm�o criticizes the jail sentence, saying that security forces, not the civilian governor, were responsible for the atrocities.
6 July 2004: In a bi-partisan letter sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 78 members of the US Congress urge the United Nations to establish an International Commission of Experts to evaluate exiting justice mechanisms and "to carefully consider recommending an international tribunal for East Timor if it finds that current processes have not achieved justice."
24 June 2004: A group of international justice and human rights organizations urges the formation of an International Commission of Experts to review the status of justice efforts regarding East Timor. In a joint letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the NGOs say that the commission must have authority to review the systems of accountability at both the Special Panels and Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Court. They urge that the commission be created and issue its report as quickly as possible to ensure that options for accountability are not lost as the mandates of the Serious Crimes Unit and Special Panels draw to a close.
25 May 2004: In the Wiranto case, East Timor's top prosecutor reaffirms that he has no intention of forwarding to Interpol the Special Panels' arrest warrant against indictee General Wiranto. Prosecutor-general Longuinhos Monteiro says that as an agent of the East Timorese Government, he must follow the policy of the State. East Timorese officials believe that it is in their country's interest to rebuild ties to Indonesia and not to prosecute Wiranto, a leading Indonesian presidential candidate. Wiranto's arrest warrant was issued by the Special Panels in May.
21 May 2004: In the Los Palos case, East Timor President Xanana Gusm�o cuts over eight years off of the sentences of three anti-independence militiamen convicted for killing nine persons, including nuns and clergymen, in 1999. Joni Marques and brothers Paulo and Joao Costa were each sentenced to more than 33 years imprisonment in 2001. A government spokesperson says the reductions are aimed at bringing the sentences in line with the country's new criminal code, which limits sentences to a maximum of 25 years in prison. The reductions are three of 32 sentences being reduced as a "symbolic act of forgiveness" to mark East Timor's second anniversary of independence.
19 May 2004: In the Ludji & Gusmao case, the Special Panels convict both Beny Ludji and Jose Gusmao of one count of crimes against humanity (murder) each. Ludji, the first Indonesian national ever convicted by the Special Panels, was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Gusmao, a former member of the East Timorese Aitarak militia, received a 2� year sentence.
17 May 2004: In the Wiranto case, the Special Panels rejects a motion brought by East Timor's Prosecutor General seeking to review and amend the indictment. The Special Panels stated that there was not sufficient evidence of possible defects in the indictment to warrant a review.
15 May 2004: East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmao, says East Timor will do nothing to carry out the Special Panel's arrest warrant for Indonesian General and presidential candidate General Wiranto. The President says that while his government cannot revoke the arrest warrant issued by the Special Panels, it will not present the warrant to Interpol. East Timor must officially present the warrant to the international police agency in order for it to be disseminated to member states. Gusmao has often said that his government's policy of seeking reconciliation and strengthening of ties between East Timor and its large and powerful neighbor takes priority over accountability for crimes committed during the independence vote in 1999.
14 May 2004: A lawyer for Special Panel indictee General Wiranto says the arrest warrant issued against his client is in breach of international law. The lawyer claims that Indonesia's Human Rights court has international jurisdiction over the case and other countries have no right to intervene. The Indonesian court declined to indict Wiranto, while the Special Panels in East Timor issued an arrest warrant against him on 10 May.
14 May 2004: The UN Security Council votes to extend the UN mission in East Timor. While the overall mission will be scaled down, the justice sector, which includes the Special Panels, shall continue to operate. The extension will run for 6 months with a view to a second extension of 6 more months. This would set the end of the UN mandate in East Timor for May 20, 2005.
12 May 2004: Indonesia's Foreign Minister says it does not recognize the Special Panel's arrest warrant against former Indonesian military chief General Wiranto. He says that East Timor has not presented the arrest warrant to the Indonesian Government and thus, Indonesia has no obligation to answer it.
11 May 2004: East Timor's Prosecutor General criticizes the Special Panels arrest warrant against Indonesia's former military chief General Wiranto. Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro says his office did not authorize the action. The Special Panels are a UN-sponsored court developed within the East Timorese judicial system. The Deputy Prosecutor in charge of Special Crimes Unit, which prosecutes cases before the Special Panels, is a subordinate of the Prosecutor General. In the past, Monteiro has pushed for arrest warrants against Indonesians indicted by the Special Panels but he says the timing of this arrest warrant reflects foreign interests and not the interests of East Timor. Wiranto is now a candidate in Indonesia's upcoming presidential elections and Monteiro questions why he is the only one of seven people named on the indictment for which an arrest warrant was made. The Prosecutor General plans to seek a review and possible revision of the indictment against Wiranto, but says that will not affect the warrant, which he plans to submit to Interpol.
10 May 2004: In the Wiranto case, the Special Panels issues an arrest warrant for General Wiranto. Wiranto, who was the head of Indonesia's military during the 1999 atrocities in East Timor, was indicted for crimes against humanity by the Special Panels last year. Over the last several weeks, the Special Crimes Unit, which drew up the indictment, has been pressing the Special Panels to issue the arrest warrant.
20 April 2004: Special Panels indictee General Wiranto is nominated as his party's contender for this summer's presidential elections in Indonesia. Wiranto, who was head of Indonesia's military during the 1999 atrocities in East Timor has been indicted by the Special Panels in East Timor for failure to stop the violence. Wiranto's party, Golkar, won the most seats in parliamentary elections earlier this month.
16 April 2004: Special Panels indictee Abilio Soares, who was convicted by an Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal, says he will appeal to the International Court of Justice if forced to serve time. The announcement follows the Indonesian Supreme Court's decision last month to uphold his conviction by the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal. Soares, the Indonesian-appointed Governor of East Timor during the 1999 atrocities, was sentenced to three years. He claims he is being made a scapegoat while other, more senior, officials are being let off the hook. Soares is still wanted for trial by the Special Panels in East Timor.
9 April 2004: The Special Panels begins a collective recess that will run until 26 April. In the past, different officials of the Panel took their leave at varying times. The coordinated recess, which involves judges, prosecutors and defense teams, is aimed at limiting the continual interruption of trials that plagued the panel last year.
27 March 2004: Two Indonesian Supreme Court judges call Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal a "whitewash" claiming that some of the defendants it had acquitted, all Special Panels indictees, are truly guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor. This attack on the ad hoc Tribunal follows the Supreme Court's 3-2 majority judgment issued on 3 March that upheld the acquittals of four Indonesian soldiers and one police officer implicated in a church massacre in East Timor in 1999. The dissenting judges claim that the five men are guilty of acts of omission under international law because they knew the massacre was going on and did nothing to prevent it. All five defendants are still wanted by the Special Panels in East Timor.
26 March 2004: A spokesperson for Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares that Indonesia will disregard the activities of the East Timor's Serious Crime Unit. The spokesperson states that the Serious Crime Unit was "only an institution at the national level" in East Timor, unconnected with the United Nations, and with no authority over Indonesia.
23 March, 2004: In the Wiranto case, the Serious Crime Unit publicly releases a synopsis of the case against Special Panels indictee General Wiranto, including damning testimonial and documentary evidence against him. The 92-page document blames Wiranto and his subordinates for grave human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. Wiranto was indicted last year for crimes against humanity, but the Special Panels have yet to issue an arrest warrant.
23 March, 2004: In the Ena case, the Special Panels hands down a split decision, convicting one defendant and freeing another. Umberto Ena is convicted of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and other inhumane acts). He is sentenced to eleven years in prison. His brother, Carlos Ena, is acquitted of the same charges after the defense raised doubts that he was even present at the crime. Carlos Ena is only the second defendant to be acquitted of all charges by the Special Panels.
11 March 2004: In the Ab�lio Mendes Correia case, the Special Panels grants Correia conditional release. Correia had spent over two years in detention while waiting for trial. Having already served over ? of his 3-year sentence, he became immediately eligible for conditional release.
9 March 2004: In the Abilio Mendes Correia case, the Special Panels sentences Correia to three years imprisonment. The former militia member plead guilty to one count of crimes against humanity (inhumane acts) on 2 March.
9 March 2004: Officials confirm that Indonesia's Supreme Court upheld the ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal's decision to acquit five middle-ranking officers, all Special Panels indictees, of charges of gross human rights violations in East Timor. The officers are Herman Sedyono, Lilik Koeshardiyanto, Achmad Syamsudin, Sugito, and Gatot Subiaktoro. The five are still wanted for trial by the Special Panels.
3 March 2004: In the Louren�o Tacaqui case, Special Panels judges make the unusual move to travel to Passabe, in the Oecussi district, for a three-day visit to visit the crime scene and hear testimony by seven witnesses. Tacaqui is charged with eight counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, and extermination, for his alleged participation in the Passabe massacre.
2 March 2004: In the Abilio Mendes Correia case, the defendant pleads guilty to one count of crimes against humanity (inhumane acts) in exchange for the Prosecution withdrawing two other counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture).
20 February 2004: The UN Security Council convenes to decide whether or not to extend the mandate of the UN mission to East Timor, which is set to expire May 20, 2004.
18 February 2004: Special Panels Judge Philip Rapoza refuses the Prosecution's request for a hearing on an arrest warrant against Indonesian General Wiranto, who was indicted for crimes against humanity in February 2003. Wiranto had earlier expressed a willingness to appear at the hearing via video-conference form Indonesia. Judge Rapoza stated that there was no basis for the hearing under local or international law.
18 February 2004: UN Secretary General Kofi Anan proposes a one-year extension of the UN mission in East Timor, noting the progress made in developing the Timorese justice system and citing the need for continued development of the country's political institutions. The original mandate is set to expire on May 20, 2004
17 February 2004: In the Lino de Carvalho case, the Special Panels sentences de Carvalho to seven years imprisonment. He plead guilty the previous day to murder as a crime against humanity.
16 February 2004: In the Lino de Carvalho case, de Carvalho pleads guilty to murder as a crime against humanity. In exchange, the Prosecution agrees to drop two further charges of crimes against humanity (inhumane acts). The trial recommenced today with a new panel of judges after nearly a year-long adjournment. The case had been put on hold following the departure of one of the judges.
12 February 2004: In the Hera case, charges against four former members of the Aitarak militia are dropped for lack of evidence. Domingos Amati, Antonio Maukasa, Jorge Manuel Lopes, and Jose Lopes had been under indictment for persecution by abduction as a crime against humanity. Charges of other counts of crimes against humanity, including torture and persecution by deportation, remain against Domingos Amati.
6 February 2004: In the Joanico Gusmão case, the Special Panels sentences Gusmão to seven years in prison. Gusmão plead guilty to one count of murder as a crime against humanity. Time Gusmão has already spent in detention will be deducted from the sentence.
4 February 2004: Special Panels indictee General Wiranto agrees to an appearance via video-conference at the proposed public hearing on the issuance of a warrant for his arrest. The Prosecution is asking the Special Panels to issue an arrest warrant against Wiranto, who was indicted in February of 2003.
16 January 2004: Media reports say the U.S. State Department has put Special Panels indictee General Wiranto and five other current and former Indonesia military leaders on a watch list of indicted war criminals. Wiranto, a candidate in Indonesia's upcoming presidential election, is still wanted for trial at the Special Panels.
14 January 2004: East Timor's top prosecutor accused the United Nations of obstructing an arrest warrant against General Wiranto. The chief prosecutor also claims that the international judges of the Special Panels are delaying seven other cases. Wiranto was indicted in February 2003 of five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, persecution, and deportation, but the Special Panels have not issued an arrest warrant. Officials from the UN deny impeding the warrants.
12 December 2003: The Court of Appeals hands down a landmark decision applying Indonesian law to a crime committed in East Timor. This is the first time the Court of Appeals has ruled that Indonesian law applies in East Timor since its controversial decision in the Armando dos Santos case issued in July, which ruled that Portuguese, not Indonesian law, was the de facto law of East Timor. The ruling comes in a case of domestic murder, not a crime against humanity, before the Special Panels. The Special Panels have jurisdiction over both international crimes (such as crimes against humanity) and serious domestic crimes (such as murder and rape) that were committed in East Timor during 1999. The Serious Crimes Unit Prosecutor in the case says the decision is a positive step toward removing the uncertainty of which law is applicable in East Timor.
12 December 2003: In the Gilberto Fernandes et al. case, the Special Panels acquit Gilberto Fernandes, Jose de Costa, and Ignacio Oliveira of two counts each of crimes against humanity (murder, persecution). Instead of a conviction on the persecution charge, the Special panels re-qualified the crime and convicted the three, under Indonesian law, of the lesser crime of violence against property or person. Under the Indonesian penal code, each was sentenced to 1� years imprisonment. Fernandes had previously been convicted by the Special Panels for torture as a crime against humanity, but was released in February after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
10 December 2003: In the Marcelino Soares case, the Special Panels finds the accused guilty of three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, torture, persecution) and sentences him to 11 years in prison. Soares is the first Indonesian solider convicted by the Special Panels of crimes against humanity, and the third jailed for violence committed in connection with East Timor's independence vote in 1999.
10 December 2003: In the Damaio da Costa Nu�es case, the Special Panels convicts the former Lakasur militia member of three counts of crimes against humanity (2 murder, persecution). He is sentenced to 10� years imprisonment.
9 December 2003: In the Salvador Soares case, the Special Panels finds the defendant guilty of one count of murder as a crime against humanity in connection with the murder of two UNAMET employees. He was acquitted of one count of torture as a crime against humanity. Soares is sentenced to 10� years imprisonment. A former East Timorese member of the Dadurus militia, Soares was one of 10 defendants named in the Maliana indictment. The other nine defendants, some of whom are Indonesian military personnel, are still at large in Indonesia.
8 December 2003: In the Paulino de Jesus case, the Special Panels finds the accused not guilty on all charges. This is the first acquittal by the Special Panels since it began hearing cases in January 2001. De Jesus was acquitted on two counts of crimes against humanity (murder, attempted murder). Under Special Panel rules, acquittals may be appealed. The Prosecution has 10 days to file notice of an appeal.
3 December 2003: Police in the Indonesian province of Papua are barring Special Panels indictee Eurico Guterres from setting up a militia in the area until an investigation is made into his motives behind the militia. Earlier this week, human rights groups expressed concern over Guterres' plan to establish anti-independence militas, similar to those he set up in East Timor. Yesterday, Indonesia announced that Timbul Silaen, indicted along with Guterres for crimes against humanity in East Timor, will soon replace the current police chief in Papua.
2 December 2003: Special Panels indictee, General Timbul Silaen, has been appointed police chief in Indonesia's Papua province. Silaen was indicted by the Special Panels as part of the Eurico Guterres et al. case. He is charged with four counts of crimes against humanity (persecution [2 counts], inhumane acts, and deportation) while working as East Timor's Chief of police. Silaen was acquitted of war crimes charges by an Indonesian ad hoc human rights court. Indonesia refuses to extradite Silean or any of its nationals to East Timor for trial. His appointment comes on the day that Papua separatists, seeking to break away from Indonesian rule, celebrate their independence day. He is expected to arrive in Papua in the coming weeks.
1 December 2003: A Papuan rights organization reports that Special Panels indictee Eurico Guterres formed a militia group in the province of Papua, Indonesia. In November of last year, an Indonesian human rights court sentenced Eurico Guterres, former Commander of the Aitarak militia in East Timor, to ten years imprisonment after convicting him for failing to prevent the murder and torture of civilians by militiamen under his control. He was released pending an appeal. He is still wanted for trial at the Special Panels.
26 November 2003: In the Miguel Mau case, the Judges of the Special Panel sentence Mau to nine years imprisonment. A former member of the Laksaur militia, Miguel Mau pleaded guilty to the three counts of Crimes against Humanity during his trial.
19 November 2003: An NGO monitoring judicial proceedings in East Timor criticizes the Special Panels for failing to provide the Timorese public with full access to judicial proceedings. The Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) expresses concern at the Panels' order not to translate into Tetum or Bahasa Indonesian proceedings, judgments, or decisions in at least three cases. JSMP maintains that while multi-lingual translation is time consuming, it is essential to allow the East Timorese public to understand or participate in the judicial process.
22 October 2003: Anastacio Martins and Domingos Gon�alves are sentenced to 11� and 15 years in prison, respectively. Martins was convicted of one count of crimes against humanity (murder). He had pleaded guilty to another count of crimes against humanity (murder) during the trial. Gon�alves was convicted of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder & forced deportation). Both men were former members of the Besi Merah Putih militia.
20 October 2003: Judge Dora de Morais of the Special Panels is recalled to Brazil, a move that will result in the disruption of several trials. Judge de Morais' departure means that one of the Special Panels will cease to operate until a replacement international judge is selected. Under UNTAET regulations, each Special Panel must be made up of two international judges and one Timorese judge. Once a new judge is appointed, the seven trials currently before Judge de Morais' panel will need to start anew. Despite pleas from the United Nations and East Timor, Brazil insists the Judge de Morais return to reassume her judicial duties in Brazil.
15 October 2003: The Appeals Chamber of East Timor upholds the conviction of Manuel Lete Bere, who was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by the Special Panels in April 2001. However, applying Portuguese law, the Appeals Chamber issues a conviction for genocide rather than murder as a crime against humanity, the offense with which the accused was originally charged.
13 October 2003: In the Same case, the Judges of the Special Panels find Domingos Mendonca guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder, persecution). Domingos, the last of four accused in the case, is sentences to 10 � years imprisonment. In July, co-defendants Benjamin Sarmento and Remeiro Tilman were sentenced to 12 and 8 years in prison, respectively, following guilty pleas. In August, co-defendant Jo�o Sarmento received 8 years in prison following a guilty plea.
7 October 2003: The Prosecution files an indictment in the Baucau case, charging seventeen individuals with varying counts of crimes against humanity including murder, torture, and persecution. The indictees include three Indonesian and ten East Timorese members of the Indonesian military (TNI). Those accused include Lt. Col. Richard Hutadjulu, former TNI Military Commander in Baucau district, and Capt. Karel Polla, former TNI Deputy District TNI Military Commander.
2 October 2003: Indonesian law is now the official de facto law in East Timor. The East Timorese parliament voted overwhelmingly to designate Indonesian law as applicable in the absence of any newly created East Timorese law. The measure comes after months of debate following a Court of Appeals ruling in July which stated that, absent of new legislation, Portuguese law had been the de facto law of the country. It is not yet clear what impact this new legislation will have on cases already decided by the Special Panels and Court of Appeals.
30 September 2003: The Prosecution files two new indictments charging a total of 13 persons. In the Moko indictment, 10 people, including former Sakunar militia deputy commander Laurentino Soares (a.k.a. Moko), are charged with varying counts of crimes against humanity (murder, attempted murder, inhumane acts, persecution). Soares is also charged in the Passabe case. In the Numbei indictment, 3 East Timorese TNI soldiers are charged with two counts of Crimes against Humanity (murder).
25 September 2003: The Prosecution announces the indictment of 18 people in what is to be known as the Hera case. Two of the 18 indictees are Indonesian TNI officers: Lt. Agus Yuli, the former Rajawali commander in Hera, and Lt. Untung, the former TNI Military Commander in Metinaro subdistrict. All of the indictees are charged with varying crimes against humanity including murder, torture, deportation, and persecution in the Hera and Metinaro areas in 1999. All 18 are believed to be in Indonesia.
24 September 2003: In the Ena case, the Court of Appeals orders the conditional release of Carlos Ena. Carlos Ena and his brother, Umbertus Ena, are charged with two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and inhumane acts). Carlos Ena had been in pre-trial detention for 17 months. The Court of Appeals ruled that the length of the detention without trial violated UNAET regulations governing criminal procedure, which stipulate that pre-trial detention should not general exceed 6 months, except in exceptional circumstances. The Ena trial is currently being heard by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes, with the hearing of evidence scheduled to resume on 8 October 2003.
23 September 2003: The Prosecution files an indictment against Rusdin Maubere, charging him with two counts of crimes against humanity (torture and enforced disappearance). Maubere is a former East Timorese TNI soldier, currently in custody in East Timor. He's charged in connection to the suspected murder of a pro-independence activist, missing since 1999.
23 September 2003: East Timor's chief prosecutor, Longuinhos Monteiro, warns that the country could face internal turmoil if it drops cases against Indonesian indictees to advance good relations with Jakarta.
11 September 2003: The Marcelino Soares case begins. Soares is the first TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) soldier to be tried for crimes against humanity (murder, torture, and persecution by unlawful detention) before the Special Panels. He was the commander of forces accused of arresting and torturing pro-independence activists in April 1999.
14 August 2003: Prosecutors in Indonesia appeal the sentence of Special Panel indictee General Adam Darimi, arguing that the Indonesian human rights court should have acquitted him. Darimi was one of only a handful of Indonesian military personnel convicted by the court for atrocities committed in East Timor, though his three-year sentence has received wide-spread international criticism for being too lenient. Jakarta refuses to turn Darimi over to the Special Panel for trial in East Timor.
12 August 2003: In the SAME case, the Special Panel sentences Jo�o Sarmento to eight years and eight months in prison. Last week, the former Tim Sasarat Ablai militia member pleaded guilty to three counts of crimes against humanity (two counts of murder and one count of deportation).
8 August 2003: A UN official says that an international tribunal to try Indonesian soldiers for atrocities committed in East Timor is a possibility in light of the light sentences handed down by the ad hoc human rights court in Indonesia. Jakarta refuses to turn over Indonesian soldiers indicted by the Special Panels in East Timor. The official says that the UN has been monitoring the Indonesian trials and is "considering its options." When the ad hoc Indonesian human rights court was set up in 2000 to try soldiers for acts in East Timor, the UN said it would re-examine the idea of an international tribunal following the outcome of the Indonesian trials.
6 August 2003: Special Panel indictee General Wiranto announces his intention to run for the Presidency of Indonesia in 2004. Wiranto was Indonesia's military chief during the 1999 atrocities in East Timor.
5 August 2003: Special Panel indictee Major-General Adam Darimi is sentenced to three years in prison by an Indonesian human rights court for failing to prevent the killings of 153 people during five separate incidents in East Timor in 1999. Darimi is named in the Wiranto et al. case before the Special Panels. He is the highest ranking Indonesian military official ever sentenced in connection to the violence in East Timor.
4 August 2003: In the SAME case, Jo�o Sarmento pleads guilty to three counts of crimes against humanity (two of murder and one of forcible deportation). On 16 July 2003, two co-defendants also pleaded guilty to similar charges. A fourth defendant, Domingos Mendonca, remains on trial.
4 August 2003: The trial of Paulino de Jesus begins. De Jesus, a former TNI soldier, is charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder. While the crimes allegedly occurred during the 1999 referendum unrest, de Jesus is being tried by the Special Panel under domestic law.
3 August 2003: East Timor's only Supreme Court Judge says that the recent Court of Appeals ruling that Portuguese, not Indonesian, law was applicable in East Timor during the 1999 referendum crisis will not invalidate all previous court rulings. Judge Claudio Ximenes says that only those cases currently on appeal will be reconsidered. Ximenes was one of three judges on the Court of Appeals panel that made the controversial ruling regarding the applicability of Portuguese law.
29 July 2003: Lawmakers in East Timor propose legislation aimed at clarifying the question of which law-Indonesian or Portuguese-is applicable in circumstances where neither East Timorese nor UNTAET law governs. The new law, if approved, would assert that Indonesian law is the applicable law in those circumstances.
24 July 2003: The Special Panel for Serious Crimes releases a decision regarding whether the law of Indonesia or Portugal should be the applicable law in East Timor in circumstances where neither East Timorese nor UNTAET law governs. In contrast to last week's ruling by the Court of Appeals, the Special Panel holds that Indonesian law is the applicable subsidiary law in East Timor.
16 July 2003: In the SAME case, the Special Panel sentences two former militia leaders. Benjamin Sarmento receives twelve years in prison after pleading guilty to five crimes against humanity (four counts of murder and one count of forcible deportation). Romeiro Tilman receives eight years in prison after admitting to two crimes against humanity (murder and forcible deportation). Two defendants, Jo�o Sarmento and Domingos Mendoca remain on trial.
15 July 2003: In the case of Armando dos Santos, the Court of Appeals overturns the Special Panel's acquittal of the accused for crimes against humanity and instead convicts him for "the crime against humanity in the form of genocide," a crime dos Santos was not charged with. The Court also increases dos Santos' sentence from 20 to 22 years. In its decision, the Court of Appeals rules that the Portuguese rather than Indonesian law is the applicable law in East Timor in circumstances where neither East Timorese nor UNTAET law governs. The decision also calls into question the applicability of the UNTAET regulation which established the Special Panels to acts committed before the regulation was issued.
11 July 2003: The trial of the first defendant in the Passabe case, Florencio Takaqui, begins. Takaqui, a former Sakunar militia member, is charged with eight counts of crimes against humanity (imprisonment, murder, deportation, extermination, persecution, and three counts of inhumane acts). Takaqui is the only one of eleven indictees in the Passable case who is in custody.
10 July 2003: The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes announces the indictment of 57 men in the Maliana case. Each indictee is charged with one or more counts of crimes against humanity, such as murder, torture, or persecution, in relation to violence in and around Maliana, the capital of the Bobonaro District of East Timor, prior to and following the 1999 referendum for independence. All 57 are believed to be in Indonesia.
7 July 2003: Three international prosecutors are sworn in at the Office of the Prosecutor General in Dili. The swearings-in of Per Halsborg (Norway), Mareick Michon (Poland) and Wambui Ngunya (Kenya) bring the number of international prosecutors able to argue cases before the Special Panels to six.
2 July 2003: The Court of Appeals recommences operations following 18 months of inactivity. The Court of Appeals had not had the required number or judges to operate until the swearing in of Judge Antunes last month.
30 June 2003: In the SAME case, the Panel accepts guilty pleas from Benjamin Sarmento and Romeiro Tilman. Sarmento pleads guilty to four counts of murder as a crime against humanity and one count of deportation as a crime against humanity. Romeiro pleads guilty to one count of murder and one count of deportation as crimes against humanity. Additional charges against the two have been dropped in accordance with the plea agreement. Sentencing is expected on 17 July 2003. The trial of two co-defendants, Jo�o Sarmento and Domingos Mendon�a, is scheduled to resume 7 July 2003.
12 June 2003: East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri calls for an amnesty for prisoners currently serving sentences in Timorese jails for crimes committed in relation to the 1999 independence referendum. Alkatiri says that since it may be impossible to bring those who are most responsible for the atrocities to justice-given that most high-level indictees are living in Indonesia-it would be unjust to keep the perpetrators of less serious crimes in jail.
9 June 2003: Former militia commander Quelo Mauno is sentenced to seven years in prison. Mauno pled guilty to one count of murder as a crime against humanity on 22 May 2003.
5 June 2003: Indonesian officials move to dismiss the charges against Special Panels indictee, General Adam Damiri, in a separate human rights court in Indonesia. The prosecutor in the Indonesia trial says he believes Damiri should be acquitted and has asked the court to set him free. That court will meet in July to decide whether or not to continue with the trial. Damiri is the highest ranking Indonesian military official on trial in the Indonesian courts for alleged crimes committed in East Timor. He is still wanted by the Special Panels in East Timor and is named as an indictee in the Wiranto et al. case.
4 June 2003: The acting Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes files new indictments charging an Indonesian Aitarak militia commander and two of his East Timorese subordinates with murder as a crime against humanity in the killing of independence campaigner Guido Alves Correia. Two of the accused, Beny Ludji (the Indonesian former commander) and Jos� Pereira are in custody in East Timor. The third accused, Jos� Lopes da Cruz Mendon�a, is believed to be in Indonesia. Mr. Ludji's detention marks the first time an Indonesian national indicted by the Court has been taken into custody in East Timor. The 32 other Indonesian nationals previously indicted are all believed to be at large in Indonesia.
30 May 2003: Judges Siegfried Blunk of Germany and Dora Martins de Morais of Brazil are sworn in as judges of the Special Panel for Serious Crimes. The Special Panels for Serious Crimes now has enough international judges to convene two panels of the Court simultaneously and to begin hearing trials again. The Special Panels for Serious Crimes has been unable to conduct trial proceedings since the departure of Judge Benefeito Mosso Ramos in April 2003.
30 May 2003: East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri calls for an international tribunal for East Timor, similar to those for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The Prime Minister says he is not satisfied with the human rights trials that are being conducted in Indonesia. Indonesia refuses to cooperate with the Special Panels in East Timor saying that Indonesians will be tried in Indonesia.
23 May 2003: Judge Francisco Florit of Italy is sworn in as a Judge of the Special Panel for Serious Crimes.
22 May 2003: General Tono Suratman, former Indonesian military commander in East Timor and currently under indictment by the Special Panels, is acquitted of crimes against humanity by an Indonesian court. Thus far, the Indonesian government has refused to turn over Indonesian officials to the Special Panels.
22 May 2003: Former East Timorese militia leader Quelo Mauno (a.k.a. Agostinho Atolan) pleads guilty to one count of murder as a crime against humanity. Judge Sylver Ntukamazina adjourned the case until 28 May 2003, at which time a full panel of the court will convene to decide whether or not to accept the plea and, if the plea is accepted, to deliver its sentence. That will be the first sitting of the entire panel since Judge Benfeito Mosso Ramos' departure from East Timor in April of this year.
23 April 2003: The Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court in East Timor conditionally releases former militia member, Mateus Tilman, after he completed two-thirds of a four year sentence for attempted murder.
9 April 2003: The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes has filed an indictment charging five East Timorese soldiers of the Indonesian Military (TNI) with crimes against humanity, including rape, torture, and deportation. The names of the accused and the location where the alleged crimes were committed are being withheld to protect the victims. The five are accused, along with other soldiers and militia members, of transferring villagers to central locations where they tortured and raped some of them, beginning in April 1999. In some cases, the rapes allegedly continued after the villagers had been deported to West Timor following the September 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia.
8 April 2003: The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes filed an indictment charging 16 individuals with crimes against humanity related to atrocities committed in the Covalima District of East Timor. The indictees in the case, known as the Second Covalima case, include the former Indonesian District Administrator for Covalima, Colonel Herman Sedyono; former Covalima District Chief of Police, Lt. Colonel Gatot Subiaktoro; 8 Indonesian Military (TNI) commanders; and 6 East Timorese TNI soldiers. The indictment focuses on violence against the civilian population in Covalima District, including the 6 September 1999 attack on civilians who sought refuge in a church in the village of Suai. An unknown number of people were killed, but 31 bodies from the attack have since been recovered in West Timor, where the accused allegedly disposed of the victims. Also included in the indictment are over 35 allegations of torture, 4 cases of enforced disappearance, and 10 cases of murder in other incidents. Colonel Sedyono (the former District Administrator) and Indonesian military commander Lt. Colonel Lilik Koeshardianto were also charged with deportation as a crime against humanity for the forced expulsion of thousands of civilians from Covalima District to West Timor after the results of the 1999 referendum in which voters overwhelmingly opted for independence from Indonesia.
6 April 2003: Judge Benfeito Mosso Ramos, one of only two international judges currently sitting on the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor, departs East Timor. There are now insufficient judges for the Special Panels to carry out trials in East Timor because UNTAET Regulations state that two international and one East Timorese judge must sit on each panel. This puts all proceedings before the Special Panels (aside from preliminary hearings and detention hearings) on hold until another international judge is appointed.
5 April 2003: In the Lolotoe case, the Special Panel sentences former militia member, Jos� Cardoso Fereira to 12 years imprisonment after finding him guilty of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape. This is the first time rape has been tried and convicted as a crime against humanity by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes since the trials began in East Timor.