The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) is concerned for the safety of Manuel Afonso and Lino Xavier Nunes who are currently in detention at POLRES (Regional Police Headquarters) in Dili, following their arrests in July and September 1997. It is believed they may be at risk of torture and ill-treatment as East Timorese detainees in military or police custody are routinely subjected to torture and ill-treatment, especially if they are denied access to independent legal counsel and members of their families. Both men have legal representation, however, it is still unclear whether they have been allowed access to their lawyers.
Manuel Afonso was arrested at 4.00am on 13 September at the Becora terminal in Dili, by four POLRES intelligence agents, one of whom has been identified as Sergeant Lino do Rosario. He was taken at gunpoint to POLSEK (police sector) headquarters and later transferred to POLRES. The ETHRC is concerned that he may have been arbitrarily detained solely for his political views as sources have reported that prior to his arrest, he was being persecuted by the security forces for allegedly founding and leading a new clandestine resistance group. It is believed he is being held under Articles 106 and 108 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) for attempting to "separate part of the state" and for armed rebellion against the state, charges which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years to life imprisonment. It is also believed he is being held under Articles 55, 56 and 110 of KUHP for planning and aiding the commission of a crime.
Lino Xavier Nunes was arrested on 30 July at the Chinese cemetery in Taibessi, Dili. It is believed he was arrested by a man called Mateus Antonio under suspicion of involvement in the alleged January 1997 killing of Mateus Antonio's son, a member of the GARDAPAKSI (Pro-Integration Youth Action Group). Nunes was taken to the BTT (Territorial Battalion) post at Taibessi in Dili before being transferred to POLRES. It is believed he is being held in relation to the killing under Articles 338, 170, 351 (3) of KUHP. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in jail.