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The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"Almost all of the suspects are from East Timor"
 real 56k

Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 11:36 GMT
Timor murder suspects on trial
Jose Fransisco, Julius Naisama and Joao Alves Da Cruz
The suspects are thought to be linked to the militias
Six men suspected of murdering three United Nations aid workers in West Timor have gone on trial in Jakarta.

The victims were stoned and stabbed to death and their bodies dragged into the street and burnt in one of the worst attacks ever against the UN.


They intended to kill the three [UNHCR] staffers by stabbing and stoning them

State Prosecutor Widodo Supriyati
The aid workers were killed as a mob ransacked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees offices in the border town of Atambua on 6 September last year.

The attack, which sparked international outrage, prompted all foreign aid groups to pull out of West Timor, where up to 120,000 East Timorese refugees are living in squalid camps.

Militia

The accused are widely believed to have been previously involved in the militia gangs responsible for much of the violence surrounding East Timor's vote for independence in 1999.


They are being tried in two courtrooms at the North Jakarta District Court.

Julius Naisama, Joao Alvez da Cruz, Jose Fransisco were charged in one court with killing the aid workers, while Xisto Perreira, Serafin Ximenes and Joao Martin appeared in another court indicted as accessories in the killings.

Prosecutor Fardan Rochim said the victims' bodies were so badly burnt they could not be identified.


After they killed them, they set fire to the bodies

State Prosecutor Widodo Supriyati
Witnesses have said the Indonesian security forces stood by as the mob torched the UNHCR office.

The three aid workers were Carlos Caceres of Puerto Rico, Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia and Pero Simundza of Croatia.

Speaking after the hearing, one of the accused openly admitted he had been involved.

He said he felt humiliated by what the international community had done in East Timor.

Rampage

UN Atambua office
The UN Atambua office which came under attack
The militias, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, waged a campaign of terror in East Timor in 1999 after the territory voted for independence from Jakarta following 23 years of harsh rule.

They fled to Indonesian West Timor when international troops were sent in to restore order.

Officials decided to move the trial from West Timor to Jakarta amid fears the militias might disrupt the hearings.

The trial, which is expected to last several months, has been adjourned until next Tuesday.

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See also:

06 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Danger of the Timor mission
06 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
UN withdraws from West Timor
14 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor pleads for help
11 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor issues militia arrest warrant
01 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor inquiry: The list of suspects
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
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