Timor massacre suspect back in Indonesia
October 31, 2009
Indonesia brought home a suspected militia leader accused in a massacre of dozens of women, children and priests in a church in East Timor a decade ago, the Foreign Ministry said.
Maternus Bere arrived in Indonesia on Friday and was taken to a hospital with undisclosed health problems, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah. He faces no charges in Indonesia and will be a free man after treatment.
An Indonesian national, Bere was indicted by UN prosecutors in 2003 on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, persecution, forced disappearances, torture, extermination and abduction.
More than 1,000 people were killed by pro-Indonesian militias when East Timor voted to break from Indonesia in 1999, but more than 300 suspects remain at large, most of them in Indonesia. Leaders from both countries oppose criminal trials so rights activists have called for the establishment of a UN tribunal.
Bere was recognised during a visit to Suai, the town where the massacre took place in September 1999, and was arrested by Timorese police in early August.
He was handed over to the Indonesian embassy at Jakarta's insistence after negotiations between the two governments on August 30, the 10th anniversary of the tiny country's vote to become an independent state.
East Timor's Supreme Court is investigating whether Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao violated the constitution by ordering Bere's release.
Judges say political leaders illegally bypassed the courts with the release, highlighting the continuing challenge to establish an independent and viable judiciary after the tiny state broke from hundreds of years of colonialism in 2002.
© 2009 AP