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Former militia leader to enter Indonesian pol -

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Former militia leader to enter Indonesian politics

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:40:00

Reporter: Geoff Thompson

ASHLEY HALL: One of the most notorious leaders of the militia violence in which 1,400 East Timorese
people were killed in 1999, has been released from a Jakarta jail after serving only two years of a
10 year sentence.

Eurico Guterres is the only militia member ever to be jailed for the violence co-ordinated by the
Indonesian military and intelligence agencies. And he capitalised on his release with an
announcement that he's planning to run for the Parliament when Indonesia goes to the polls next

Jakarta correspondent, Geoff Thompson, reports.

(Sound of protesters yelling)

GEOFF THOMPSON: Waving the red and white flag of Indonesia, Eurico Guterres emerged late last night
from Jakarta's Cipinang Prison, where East Timor's current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao spent seven
years behind bars.

Eurico Guterres spent only two, despite actually being caught on tape in 1999 ordering his militia
men to find and kill independence supporters. Late last week, his appeal against the conviction and
10-year sentence he received in 2006, was upheld by Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Judge Iskandar Kamil even declared that Guterres was "entitled to rehabilitation of his name and
receive compensation from the state".

Surrounded by a small band of zealous acolytes, some who imitate his long hairstyle and beard,
Guterres was jostled into a car and away to a cafe where he announced his political intentions.

(Eurico Guterres speaking)

"I'm ready, I'm ready to do that," he said, "I belong to that world. What I'm going to do is openly
run and let the people decide who they would choose. I'm going to run for the province in West


It's not an idle ambition either. Sitting next to Guterres, was Zulkifli Hasan, the
Secretary-General of the moderate and secular National Mandate Party known as PAN, which was
founded by Amien Rais after the fall of Suharto.

(Zulkifli Hasan speaking)

"No law can prohibit Eurico running for office. He could run for parliament, he could run to be
regent, or even governor," said Zulkifli Hasan.

"According to Indonesian laws on political parties, there's no prohibition. It's different if the
person was involved in criminal cases. We believe that Eurico is not a war criminal and he is not a
killer either. We believe Eurico is a warrior for the red and white flag. He's a warrior for

He does have powerful friends. Before leaving prison last night, Suharto's son-in-law and former
Kopassus commander, Prabowo Subianto, paid Guterres a visit.

(Prabowo Subianto speaking)

"I come to congratulate Eurico Guterres, I heard he's going to be released soon and I'm happy
because finally a patriot, an Indonesian man who is loyal to the red and white flag, is given

As Kopassus chief, Prabowo himself was accused of human rights abuses in East Timor. Perhaps
Guterres political aspirations should not be surprising in a country where Yunus Yosfiah, the man
who ordered the killings of the Balibo Five, remains in Indonesia's Parliament today.

ASHLEY HALL: Geoff Thompson reporting from Jakarta.