Jakarta makes first sentencing in Timor trials

JAKARTA, Reuters

Indonesian prosecutors trying suspects over violence that devastated East Timor in 1999 made their first demand for sentencing on Thursday, seeking a jail term of 10 years for the territory’s former governor.

The demand was well below the maximum sentence for the charges of crimes against humanity faced by Abilio Soares.

Soares sat stony-faced in the center of Jakarta’s human rights court as prosecutors read out their sentencing demand for acts committed in the lead up to and after East Timor voted in a U.N. sponsored referendum to break from Indonesian rule.

“The governor failed to direct (local officials) to control violence between pro-integration and pro-independence groups. The defendant’s actions distressed people and he did not show remorse during the trial,” prosecutor I Ketut Murtika told the court.

The trial was adjourned for a week. A verdict is not expected for another month.

Soares, who has denied any wrongdoing, had faced death on a charge of failing to control subordinates accused of murdering East Timorese. He was also charged with failing to prevent torture, which carried the maximum penalty of 20 years jail.

Both charges carried a minimum sentence of 10 years, although it was unclear if that meant Soares’ minimum sentence should have been a combined 20 years. Both charges came under the heading of crimes against humanity.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, become formally independent on May 20 when the United Nations handed over power after running the territory in the wake of the 1999 violence.