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Three youths jailed on subversion charges

Kompas - December 22, 1997

Baucau – The Baucau District Court in East Timor has passed jail terms on three local youths found to have committed a subversive act against the Indonesian government. The three youths are Muhammad Amin, 19, Fortunato Ximenes, 31, and Alvino Freitas, 19. All of them have been sentenced to 17 years in prison minus their detention time.

The sentence, handed down by Judge Idris Sinambela at the trial on Friday (19th December), was three years less than what the prosecutor, Damly R. Purba, had demanded. The three youths were accompanied by their defence counsels: Abdul Hakim, Perry Wilson and Nursalam Paliling from the Trisula Legal Assistance Institute in Dili.

Two weeks earlier, the Baucau District Court also sentenced two Baucau residents charged on similar grounds. Luis Maria da Silva, 57, and Fransisco da Costa, 36, were sentenced to death by the court.

There are 18 defendants in this case and they are being tried in four separate trials. Five of the 18 defendants have received their verdicts while the rest are facing the prosecutors' demand for 20-year jail terms.

The judge said the defendants had held a meeting on 26th May 1997 to carry out a plan to sabotage the 1997 general elections in East Timor. "The defendants agreed to make the meeting a secret and anyone who revealed the secret meeting would be killed - and also his family members. If one wants to join the security disturbance movement, one must do it wholeheartedly and be responsible for one's own safety," said the judge, quoting the prosecutor as having said.

As mentioned during the trial, the defendants managed to lay an ambush on 17 security personnel who were in charge of safeguarding the elections at Abafala village, Quelicai subdistrict, Baucau District, East Timor. Several security personnel were killed during the ambush. The three defendants decided to appeal against the verdict through their defence counsel, Perry Wilson.