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East Timorese arrested and tortured

East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) - January 15, 1998

ETHRC has received reports that Elizio Pinto Guterres Soares (also known as Mito), 25, an East Timorese man studying in Semarang, Indonesia, was arrested and tortured by members of the Indonesian security forces on 1 January, 1998,

Mito was arrested at approximately 2.30am during a New Year's eve party which the East Timorese students were holding at an auditorium at the University of Diponegoro, Semarang, located opposite the police headquarters. It is believed that at 2.30am, three undercover police agents (who were reportedly drunk), entered the party and began to provoke the students. It is believed that Mito, who was responsible for security at the party, attempted to restore calm. Two of the three police agents left the party and returned shortly with four members of the mobile police brigade unit (BRIMOB) carrying weapons in their hands. It is believed an argument broke out between some students and the police when the police ordered the party to be stopped claiming it was disturbing the Muslims during their fasting month. The students said that they had a permit issued by the police commander to continue the party until 3.00am.

According to an ETHRC source "The police threatened to mobilize the Muslims to attack the Timorese. The situation was chaotic and the students started to fight the police. The police shot several times into the air for warning and some women fainted. The students were finally calmed down and then the police took Mito to be questioned concerning the incident. His colleagues tried to protect him, but then they let the police take him when police threatened them with guns."

Mito was questioned at the police headquarters by the police and soldiers from battalion 401 and released the following day without any charges being brought against him. An ETHRC source reported that during interrogation, Mito was subjected to torture: "An army soldier kicked on his [Mito] side several times until he broke one of his ribs and collapsed". The source also reported that Mito may have been targetted by the police for arrest and torture because of his alleged participation in demonstrations.

Mito was picked up by his friends the next day and taken to Elizabeth Catholic hospital for treatment. He was discharged seven days later.