EAST TIMOR HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE
124 Napier St Fitzroy 3065 Australia
PO BOX 1413 Collingwood 3066 Australia
Tel: +61 3 9415 8225 Fax: +61 3 9416 2746 E-mail: ethrc@minihub.org
Director: Ms Maria Brett Chair: Bishop Hilton Deakin

URGENT ACTION

23 December 1997

NAMES:
Luis Maria da Silva, 57
Francisco da Costa, 36

VIOLATION:
Unfair trials / Death Penalty

LOCATION:
Baucau, East Timor

Ref: UA 29/97
Further information: UA 17/97, UA 17/97PR


Two East Timorese men, Luis Maria da Silva and Francisco da Costa, were sentenced to death on 11 December 1997 after being tried and found guilty by the Baucau District Court of murder, taking part in subversion with the aim of separatism, and illegal possession of firearms. This is the first time since East Timor was occupied by Indonesia in 1975 that the death sentence has been used in East Timor. According to media reports, the two East Timorese men have lodged appeals to the High Court.

The convictions relate to the men's alleged involvement in the 31 May ambush by members of Falintil (the armed East Timorese resistance) on a truck which was carrying members of the Indonesian military and police (see UA 17/97 and UA 17/97PR). During the ambush, a grenade was thrown into the truck resulting in the death of thirteen Indonesians, while another four Indonesians were shot dead trying to escape. The attack was part of the wave of violence which surrounded the Indonesian election in May this year.

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) is concerned that the trials of Luis Maria da Silva and Francisco da Costa may not have met with international standards for fair trials. It also appears that the trials may not have complied with the relevant provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). Under Article 55 of KUHAP, prisoners have the right to choose their own lawyers, but it is believed Luis Maria da Silva and Francisco da Costa were defended by court appointed lawyers as their families were too afraid to appoint their own lawyers. There are also concerns that the men may not have had ongoing access to their lawyers throughout the trial process, a right guaranteed under Articles 54 and 56 of KUHAP.

According to Amnesty International, up to 53 East Timorese people may also be on trial for their alleged involvement in 31 May ambush and other incidents which took place around the time of the Indonesian election. If convicted, some of these prisoners could also face the death penalty. According to a recent media article (AFP 12 December 1997), Indonesian prosecutors are seeking the death sentence against Lodewijk Manuel de Armento, 29 and Francisico de Jesus Coreia, 32 who have been also accused in taking part in the 31 May ambush and helping plan it.

Background Information
The 29 May Indonesian election was accompanied by a wave of violence in East Timor. A series of armed attacks by Falintil on Indonesian military and police targets resulted in over forty people being killed, including members of the Indonesian police and military, members of Falintil and East Timorese civilians. The ETHRC does not condone the unwarranted use of force and condemns any acts of violence against civilians, by either the Indonesian military or the East Timorese guerrillas, as being human rights violations under international law. However, the ETHRC believes the intensive retaliation by Indonesian security forces since the election has not been restricted to those directly responsible for criminal offences but has targeted innocent East Timorese people. Since the election, it is believed that at least 200 people across the territory have been arrested, most of them arbitrarily. (See SR2/97 dated 30 August 1997).

RECOMMENDED ACTION:
Please send faxes/telegrams/express/airmail letters in English, Bahasa Indonesia or your own language:

. expressing concern that Luis Maria da Silva and Francisco da Costa's death sentences may have been handed down after an unfair trial; and . calling on the Indonesian authorities to commute the death sentences given to the two men.

SEND APPEALS TO:

1.PRESIDENT SUHARTO
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Istana Negara
Jl. Veteran
Jakarta Pusat
INDONESIA
Faxes: +62 21 345 7782 Email: hanafix@indo.net.id
Telegrams: President Suharto, Jakarta, Indonesia

2.MINISTER OF JUSTICE
Haji Utoyo Usman S.H
Menteri Kehakiman
Jl H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan
Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Telegrams: Minister Justice, Jakarta, Indonesia Faxes: +62 21 525 3095

ALSO SEND COPIES TO:

3.SECRETARY GENERAL, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Prof. Dr. Baharuddin Lopa
Sekretaris Jenderal, Komisi Nasional Hak Azasi Manusia (Komnas HAM)
Jl Latuharhary No 4 B,
Menteng Jakarta Pusat
INDONESIA
Phone/Fax: +62 21 392 5227 Email: info@komnas.go.id

and to diplomatic representatives of Indonesia in your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY
Check with the East Timor Human Rights Centre if sending appeals after 3 February 1998


Back to the main index