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Indonesia to bring 33 people to court over Dili protest in March

Agence France Presse - July 10, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian authorities will bring 33 people to court over protests in the capital of East Timor during the visit of a United Nations envoy to the troubled territory in March, a report said here Thursday.

"The number of suspects to be brought to court will total 33," the head of the East Timor's provincial attorney general's office, J.F. Martanto, said, according to the state Antara news agency.

Martanto said in Dili, East Timor, that the 33 suspects would be tried in three separate cases involving 14, 16 and three people.

He did not say what charges would be leveled against them, saying that his office was still studying the dossiers.

The scores of young East Timorese who went peacefully to a Dili hotel to demand a meeting with the visiting UN special envoy, sent by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, were violently beaten back by security members on March 23.

Hundreds of protesters, men and women, later descended on the area but were stopped by police and soldiers from reaching the Mahkota hotel where the United Nations special envoy to East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, was staying.

The East Timor police said they arrested 48 people following the protest. It also said that some of the demonstrators were injured after they fell through the hotel's glass panels.

The National Commission on Human Rights however has said that 24 of the detainees had injuries which suggested that they were beaten up.

Marker, who made a three-day "fact finding" trip to East Timor on March 22-24, did not meet the protestors who carried anti-Indonesia posters but no weapons.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 and declared it its 27th province the following year. It has since faced resistance from the East Timorese pro-independence movement.

The United Nations and most countries still view Lisbon as the administrator of East Timor.