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Semarang prisoners not involved in bomb-making

Tapol - December 14, 1997

Two lawyers from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Institute, the PBHI, recently spent two days in Semarang in connection with several East Timorese who will shortly go on trial in connection with bomb-making. They were able to meet four of their clients who have been detained there since mid-September in connection with bomb-making at a house in Demak. The East Timorese told their lawyers that they were not involved in making bombs.

The PBHI is acting for the five East Timorese now under arrest in Semarang, Ivo Salvador Soares Miranda, Fernao Pedro Malta Coreia Lebre, Joaquim Santana, Domingos Natalino C.C. da Silva, and Gil Paulo da Silva.

I. The first four told the lawyers they knew nothing about bombs until an explosion took place in Demak on 13 September. Following the explosion, the security forces visited the lodgings of all East Timorese in the area, to check on their identity. Intimidation was used during these check-ups.

It so happens that Domingos Natalino and Joaquim Santana had to leave the lodgings where they had been staying because their contract ended on 11 September. They went to Jl Mahesa Timur Gg IIB/483, Semarang to stay there temporarily until they found somewhere else to stay. Ivo was living at Jl Lempongsari Barat IV/352, Semarang, Fernao Pedro was living alone, while Gil Paulo da Silva was living in Jl Sundoro No 20, Manahan Surakarta, Solo.

Joaquim Santana was arrested on 14 September while on his way to the address in Jl Mahesa Timur to pick up his belongings from there. Later the same day, Domingos Natalino together with a friend called Joe (whose parents own the house on Jl Mahesa) were arrested as they were going back to the house on a motorbike. Joe was released the following day but Domingos has been in custody ever since.

Fernao Pedro and Ivo Salvador were arrested while on their way to the same house intending to spend a few hours with friends. Gil Paulo da Silva was arrested on 3 November when he responded to a summons from the Semarang police for questioning in connection with the bomb-making.

II. All five men were arrested without arrest warrants and they have not yet been officially informed of the charges against them. The lawyers were able to ascertain from discussions with officials at the Semarang Public Prosecutor's office that the first four will be charged with involvement in bomb-making under emergency law no 12 of 1951 as well as articles in the Criminal Code regarding arson and for failing to report a criminal action. Relatives in Semarang have not been told about their arrests.

With regard to Gil Paulo's arrest, the facts are as follows:

When the explosion occurred in Demak, a young man named Joao Bosco was injured in the blast on 13 September. He fled to Solo and asked Gil whether he could spend the night with him. When asked about his injuries, Joao said he had fallen from a bus. Feeling sorry for him as a fellow East Timorese, Gil took him in for the night. The next day Joao left Gil's home without telling Gil where he was going and he still does not know his whereabouts.

Gil was questioned by the security forces about Joao, while they were visiting the homes of many East Timorese in Solo, looking for Joao Bosco and others. Gil then decided to go voluntarily to the local military command to report that Joao had indeed stayed with him for one night, but he insisted that he know nothing about Joao being involved in making bombs.

Satisfied with his explanation, the army and police officers told him to go home and get on with his studies.

A month later, Gil received a summons from the Semarang police for questioning. He responded to the summons on 3 November and told the police that he knew nothing at all about the explosives case in Semarang. He said that he had helped Joao Bosco because he felt sorry for him. However, he was arrested and has been in custody ever since. Nothing is known about the charges against him, but it is understood that he may be accused of giving hiding to someone being sought by the authorities and for destroying items of evidence. His family has not been informed of his arrest.

III. During their detention, the first four men have been subjected to harsh treatment. Fernao has been tortured with electricity and intimidated, Domingos has been punched in the chest, Joaquim has been tortured and Ivo has been terrorised and intimidated.

IV. They told the PBHI lawyers that they know nothing about the explosives case and are not involved in any way. They were forced while being tortured to sign interrogation reports (BAP) that had been prepared in advance by the interrogators.

V. Until they were visited by the PBHI lawyers they had not been contacted by any lawyers, in breach of the Criminal Procedural Code. During interrogation by the police and public prosecutor officials, they have not been accompanied by lawyers.

The PBHI lawyers were given permission by the Semarang Public Pprosecutor's office to meet the four in Pane Prison, Semarang on 5 December and spent thirty minutes with them. They were informed by an official at the office that the four men may go on trial this week or in two weeks time. Gil is still being held by the police; the lawyers were not permitted to visit him.