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Five Timorese on trial over killing

Reuters - April 27, 1997

Jakarta – Five East Timorese, including a junior high school student, have gone on trial in the territory in connection with the death of a soldier on a Christmas eve, Indonesia's official Antara news agency reported on Sunday.

Antara said the trial of the defendants, aged between 17 and 22, started on Saturday in Dili, East Timor's capital, under tight security.

"The prosecutors have charged the defendants with assault, which (led) to the death of Alfredo Siga dos Santos in front of the Dili cathedral," said Antara. Assault carries a maximum penalty of five years and six months in jail in Indonesia.

Antara said the youths beat Corporal Dos Santos to death near Dili's cathedral on December 24. It gave no further details.

The military said the soldier, wearing civilian clothes, was off-duty and was visiting the cathedral on his own as a worshipper.

On the same day, several other police and soldiers were attacked by members of a crowd that had gathered to welcome home Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo from an overseas trip.

Belo has publicly apologised for the death of the soldier, a native of East Timor and father of seven.

Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in December 1975 and made it the country's 27th province the next year. The move has not been recognised by the United Nations, which regards Lisbon as the territory's administering power.

Police said last month they had charged 24 East Timorese with showing hatred toward the Indonesian government after they staged a protest during a visit by U.N. envoy for East Timor Jamsheed Marker.

The detainees have been accused of damaging property, possessing sharp weapons and resisting arrest. No trial date has been set.