Tue, 31 Oct 2000

Eurico transferred to Salemba penitentiary

JAKARTA (JP): While the trial on Eurico Guterres' alleged role in last month's incident in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, is approaching, prosecutors transferred on Monday the pro-Indonesia East Timorese militia leader from his safe house at the city police headquarters to the Salemba penitentiary in Central Jakarta.

Newly installed spokesman to the Attorney General's Office Muljohardjo said the prosecutors had put Eurico in the penitentiary for 20 days, pending the trial on his alleged role in inciting others to repossess firearms which had earlier been seized by police officers.

"Eurico Guterres was transferred to Salemba penitentiary prior to the trial, the date of which has yet to be set," Muljohardjo told journalists at his office.

Muljohardjo was speaking after head of the Atambua Prosecutor's Office Soetarso announced that the dossiers prepared by the National Police detectives was considered complete.

However, Muljohardjo said there was yet a decision on when the preliminary hearing would be held and which court the dossiers on Eurico would be submitted to.

Eurico was arrested on Oct. 4 this year at a hotel room in Central Jakarta for his alleged role in ordering his followers to repossess arms which had been handed over to the authorities in Atambua on Sept. 24.

Eurico was also named a suspect by the Attorney General's Office in the alleged human rights abuses in East Timor last year.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said on Monday his office was attempting to get an approval from the Supreme Court to hold Eurico's trial in Jakarta, instead of in Atambua where the alleged crime took place.

He said the effort was in line with the request of the head of the Atambua Prosecutor's Office, Soetarso, who had received the dossiers on Eurico, from the police, as a suspect in the firearms repossession case.

"Moreover, the transfer will smooth the way for the prosecution since the suspect is already in Jakarta and the Supreme Court has given permission to reopen the trial on Eurico as a defendant for possessing illegal weapons," Marzuki told journalists.

Eurico has earlier been exonerated from all charges of possessing illegal weapons in the Atambua District Court's pretrial motion.

Eurico protested the detention saying the police had ignored a court's decision which had ordered the police to release him as he had been a victim of a wrongful arrest.

"I'm very disappointed. The police don't respect the court," Eurico told reporters as he was escorted to the police car from his safe house.

The South Jakarta District Court ordered the police on Oct. 23 to release Eurico after he filed a lawsuit against the police saying the police had failed to produce a warrant when they arrested him.

After the arrest, Eurico was detained at the National Police Headquarters.

He was then placed under house arrest and was transferred to the safe house on Oct. 21 after the police had finished questioning him.

Eurico had not been released from the safe house even after the court ordered for his release because the paper work on his release had not been completed, Muljohardjo said.

Eurico had requested for police protection after the court ordered for his release since he felt unsafe as there were some parties who wanted him dead. (jaw/bby)