Leader of Timorese militia is arrested in Jakarta

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The Independent Online

Eurico Guterres, the notorious militia leader alleged to have organised and committed much of last year's murderous violence in East Timor, was arrested yesterday in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Eurico Guterres, the notorious militia leader alleged to have organised and committed much of last year's murderous violence in East Timor, was arrested yesterday in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

He was held on charges that he obstructed police in an operation to disarm members of his pro-Jakarta militia group during a weapons sweep in Indonesian West Timor last month. Mr Guterres, leader of the Aitarak or "Thorn" militia group, is also on a suspects list of those behind the violence that followed the vote on independence for East Timor.

During the run-up to last year's UN-supervised referendum, he led efforts to intimidate the population into supporting continued rule from Jakarta. Seven young men were massacred by his supporters in the home of the pro-independence leader, Manuel Carrascalao, in April 1999. When 78.5 per cent of Timorese voted for independence the militias and their masters in the Indonesian army burnt towns, drove out the UN and forced the population into West Timor.

Since the arrival of the peace-keepers Mr Guterres has lived in West Timor, where Aitarak and other militias have sown terror in the camps inhabited by East Timorese refugees. Three foreign UN relief workers were murdered last month after hundreds of militia men attacked and ransacked their Atambua headquarters in West Timor.

Last week the UN's chief in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, criticised the attitude of the Indonesian authorities. He referred to Mr Guterres, in an address to the UN Security Council, as "a well-known suspect of crimes against humanity [who] should be behind bars instead of being invited to attend meetings".

Before his arrest Mr Guterres said: "When I bring honey, they [the Indonesian nation] come to me. But when I'm considered to bring poison, they leave me."

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