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Five East Timorese go on trial for election-related ambush

Indonesia Times - November 11, 1997

Dili – Trials began Monday for five East Timorese accused of taking part in a rebel raid on a police station on May 28.

Prosecutors allege the men were among the rebels who stormed the station in the provincial capital, Dili, stabbed two officers and then fled with police weapons. One rebel was shot dead by police.

The clash was one of several between Indonesian forces and rebels in the lead-up to national parliamentary elections.

At least 22 people were killed in the pre-election violence in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony which changed authorities to Indonesia in 1975. More were killed in clashes after the election.

The five defendants - Jermias da Costa, Jose Mali Amaral, Ernesto Rodrigues Martins, Akau da Costa and Francisco Magno - were charged with attempting to undermine the Indonesian government.

If convicted, they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors also accuse the men of giving supplies and information to other rebels prior to the attack.

Only one of three defense lawyers was allowed to represent the defendants in court.

Two other lawyers from Jakarta were barred by the Dili High Court. Officials said they did not have permission to practice in East Timor.