Dili – Six students of the University of East Timor have gone on trial on charges of 'torturing' three members of the armed forces. The trial commenced on 11 February.
The six [all political science students] are: Francisco de Deus, 20; Domingos da Silva, 25; Silveiro Baptista Ximenes, 23; Juvinal dos Santos Moniz, 22; Bernardino Simao, 23 and; Vicente Marquez da Crus, 21.
The six defendants are assisted by two lawyers from Yayasan HAK, Aniceto Guterres Lopes and Vinsensius Daton Igon.
The opening session of the trial was attended by a large number of UNTIM students, causing the security forces to put on extra personnel. The roads leading to the courthouse were closed to all vehicles, including motorbikes.
The indictment alleged that the six men had inflicted bodily harm on three soldiers at around 8 am on 14 November. The incident occurred outside the Library on Jalan Kaikoli, western Dili. The soldiers were engaged in a surveillance operation in the area near Vila-Verde district and were walking from the Company C barracks towards the Dili Cathedral. As they approached the library, they saw a large crowd of students standing near the building. Suddenly, according to the indictment, the three soldiers were set upon by the students. A soldier named Suharto was attacked and beaten by one of the defendants while another dragged him inside the library, locking the door, preventing his two colleagues from coming to his aid. Outside the two other soldiers were assaulted as they tried to get into the library. All three soldiers suffered serious injuries, the prosecutor claimed.
They are all being charged under Article 170, para (2), sub para (1) of the Criminal Code, for which the maximum penalty is five years.