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East Timorese bomb carrier gets 20 years

Associated Press - April 2, 1998

Jakarta – An Indonesian court has sentenced an East Timorese man to 20 years in prison for allegedly smuggling homemade bombs into the disputed territory last year, the official Antara news agency reported today.

Antara said Constancio Costa Dos Santos, 21, was convicted by the Dili District Court on Tuesday on charges of undermining the Indonesian government.

Mathius Maramba, head of East Timor's prosecutors office, said Santos, also known as Akuita, was arrested last September after he arrived by ship in the territory's capital, Dili, from Java Island.

Police said he was in possession of 20 bombs as well as M-16 rifle cartridges.

Prosecutors said the gasoline bombs had been intended for use against state facilities in Dili, including military stations.

Police have said they uncovered a bomb-making operation last year after a blast damaged a house, thought to be a makeshift bomb factory, in Demak on the island of Java.

Rebel leader Jose Alexandre Xanana Gusmao, who is serving a 20- year sentence in Jakarta, has claimed responsibility for the operation, but denied accusations that the bombs were intended to blow up civilian targets.