EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 21/43/97
UA 189/97 Fear of torture 26 June 1997
EAST TIMORJose Antonio Belo
Guilherme dos Santos
One other - name not known
Amnesty International fears for the safety of four men arrested after an alleged
confrontation between the Indonesian Armed Forces and the East Timorese Armed
Resistance, Falintil, in Kaibada, close to the East Timorese town of Baucau.
All four detainees are believed to be at serious risk of torture and
ill-treatment, which is common in both police and military custody in East
Timor. They should be granted immediate access to independent lawyers, their
families and medical personnel.
The four, Jose Antonio Belo, Guilherme dos Santos, Manuel and one unnamed man,
were arrested by members of the Indonesian military on the morning of 25 June
1997, together with armed resistance leader David Alex. Although some reports
state that the five were taken into custody during a military confrontation,
the precise circumstances of the arrests, and the details of any military
confrontation which may have occurred, remain unclear. On 26 June, the military
made an announcement claiming that David Alex had died as a result of wounds
sustained during the confrontation (see below).
The whereabouts of the other four men is not clear. One source has claimed
that Jose Antonio Belo, Manuel and the unnamed man are being held in military
custody in Baucau. Sources claim that the three were not armed at the time
of their arrest, although Amnesty International is unable to confirm this.
It is believed that Guilherme dos Santos may have been taken to Dili.
Jose Antonio Belo was imprisoned for his peaceful activities in support of
East Timorese independence in 1995 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. During
his interrogation, and at times while he served his prison sentence, he was
subjected to torture and ill-treatment. He was released from prison in 1996
(see UA 05/95, ASA 21/06/95, 11 January 1995 and update ASA 21/13/96, 12 February
David Alex, 44, the second-in-command of Falintil with responsibility for the
armed resistance’s operations form Baucau to Viqueque, had been accused by
the military of planning recent attacks on military targets around the Baucau
area. Amnesty International is concerned that the military have not yet provided
full information about how David Alex died and that the information that they
have provided has been inconsistent. According to one military source David
Alex was shot twice in the leg during the confrontation and died on the night
of 25 June as he was receiving treatment at a hospital in Dili. Another military
source, however, was quoted by Agence France Press as saying that David Alex
died in a helicopter as he was being transported from Baucau to Dili. Concern
about how David Alex died has been heightened by the news that he has already
been buried in Dili. It is believed that his family is currently attempting
to negotiate with the military for the return of the body.