CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY TRIAL OF MILITIAMAN UNDERWAY
Witnesses have begun giving testimony in the trial of Armando dos Santos, a Besi Merah Putih (BMP) militia commander charged with four counts of Crimes Against Humanity.
In the second Crimes Against Humanity trial heard by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes, Santos is accused of a murder relating to the 6 April 1999 Liquiça Church massacre; a murder related to the 17 April 1999 attack on the residence of Manuel Carrascalão in Dili; another murder in Liquiça district; and “other inhumane acts.”
Santos gave a statement to the court last week in which he acknowledged killing one person; said he stabbed another who was already dead; and was present during the killing of a third person. He claimed that he was intoxicated and under duress during all three incidents.
The panel of judges decided the statement was not a guilty plea and the trial proceeded. The widow of one of the alleged victims said in testimony late last week that she witnessed Santos kill her husband. Yesterday, 4 February, a second witness to the same killing did not identify the accused.
Santos’ trial is not one of the 10 priority cases identified by UNTAET’s Serious Crimes Unit (SCU). However, it is related to two priority cases that have been investigated by the SCU – the Liquiça Church massacre and the attack on the Carrascalão residence.
One priority case has already gone to trial – the so-called “Lospalos case” that ended on 11 December 2001 with all 10 accused present in court being convicted of committing a range of Crimes Against Humanity offences in East Timor’s easternmost Lautem district in 1999.
The second priority case, the Lolotoe trial, is scheduled to start on Friday, 8 February.
PETROLEUM RELATED TRAINING CENTRES TO OPEN IN EAST TIMOR
East Timor Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri yesterday chaired this year’s first meeting of the steering committee for the education, training and employment of East Timorese in the petroleum industry.
The meeting, held in Darwin, Australia, resulted in a plan to establish training centres in Dili and Baucau districts where East Timorese can attend basic training courses that include mechanical and electrical engineering. The majority of the trainers will come from outside East Timor, and the centres are expected to open later this year.
The steering committee, which meets every month, comprises representatives of UNTAET, the East Timor Transitional Government, the Australian Government, the
Northern Territory Government, Phillips Petroleum Company, Woodside Energy Limited and the Timor Gap Joint Authority.
There are currently two East Timorese engineers working on a Timor Gap oil rig and one East Timorese geologist working in Darwin, Australia, for the Joint Authority.
In related news, East Timor’s Secretary of State for Natural and Mineral Resources, Egídio de Jesus, returned to East Timor today after a five-day official visit to Indonesia and Singapore during which he met his ministerial counterparts on oil-related issues.