Eurico Barros Gomes Guterres
Aitarak militia commander, Dili; deputy commander militia umbrella organisation PPI
Eurico Guterres was the most prominent militia leader in East Timor in 1999. He was always more a street fighter who followed the money than a political player. On 10 or 12 August 1998 he and several other men who were to lead militias in 1999 (Joao Tavares and Cancio de Carvalho) met with East Timor military commander Col Tono Suratman and Udayana military area commander Maj-Gen Adam Damiri. The military men told the East Timorese they must organise 'to protect integration'. This was the launching date of an East Timor-wide militia movement devised over the previous two months by Maj-Gen Sjafrie Syamsuddin and Maj-Gen Zacky Anwar Makarim.
In January 1999, either just before or after the day that President Habibie announced the independence ballot, MajGen Adam Damiri appointed Eurico Guterres head of a long quiescent militia organisation called Gardapaksi (or Gadapaksi). He gave him Rp 50 million (about US$6000 at the time) to revive it. It was renamed Aitarak, but most of its members had been in Gardapaksi. Some were active members of Kopassus. Leaked Indonesian army documents establish that Aitarak was a regular part of the Indonesian armed forces. He boasted to journalists that he took his orders directly from Adam Damiri, and told others he communicated with Maj-Gen Zacky Anwar Makarim.
Throughout 1999 he engaged in numerous acts of violence and intimidation, while staying in intimate contact with top Indonesian military and civilian officials.
On 26 February 1999 he and another militia leader, Cancio de Carvalho, faxed a death threat to Australian journalists in Jakarta intending to cover East Timor. On 30 May 1999 he again threatened to kill Australian journalists.
On 26 March 1999 he attended a meeting in Dili with other senior militia leaders including Joao Tavares, as well as Governor Abilio Soares, and military commander Col Tono Suratman. At this meeting Governor Soares allegedly urged that pro-independence nuns and priests should be killed. It was one of several such meetings throughout February and March 1999.
On 6 April 1999 he played a role in the run-up to the Liquica church massacre, though he has not been indicted for his role in it (see Leonito Martins and LtCol Asep Kuswani).
On 17 April 1999 he was recorded on national and international television as inciting his own and thousands of other militiamen from every district in East Timor gathered in a rally of 3-5000 to kill pro-independence supporters. The rally, to launch an anti-independence 'cleansing' campaign in Dili, was attended by the governor and all top government and military officials in East Timor. At this rally Eurico Guterres was made deputy commander of the combined pro-integration forces PPI (Pasukan Pro-Integrasi), a military-backed umbrella grouping of militias nominally led by Joao Tavares.
He delivered an inflammatory speech urging his men to 'capture and kill if you need' those who had 'betrayed integration'. He singled out the family of former parliamentarian Manuel Carrascalao as 'traitors'. He concluded by stating that I, Eurico Guterres, 'will take full responsibility'. He then led one group of militia men and TNI members on a rampage around Dili, resulting in thirteen deaths.
The group first destroyed property at the houses of three independence supporters. Manuel Pinto died in the third of these attacks, in which Eurico participated.
At about 1pm, still led by Eurico, the group arrived at the house of Manuel Carrascalao, located next door to Eurico Guterres' Gardapaksi (later Aitarak) Dili headquarters. Other militia members had gathered outside it earlier, and inside were about 100 pro-independence refugees. Sensing the impending attack, Carrascalao and his daughter Christina had appealed for protection directly to East Timor military commander Col Tono Suratman but the latter did not respond. Carrascalao then appealed to some armed Brimob policemen, who also refused to act immediately.
On 18 February 2002 Guterres was indicted in absentia before the Serious Crimes Panel in Dili District Court over these 17 April attacks. Seventeen others, including eight TNI members, are mentioned in the same indictment. The indictment states clearly which members of the party of militiamen and soldiers were responsible for killing each of the twelve victims and seriously injuring five others inside Carrascalao's house that day. Eurico was present while bodies were dumped into the well.
Afterwards Col Tono Suratman gave Eurico Tavares and Joao Tavares some cardboard boxes full of money - which turned out to be counterfeit! The contents of some of the many communications between Suratman and Guterres at this time and later in the year were leaked in March 2002 by sources within the Australian Defence Signals Directorate.
Two days after the murders at Manuel Carrascalao's house, Dili district head Domingos Soares appointed him chief of a 'voluntary civil security force' (Pam Swakarsa, also called Kamra) for Dili. The appointment was little noted at the time but attracted widespread international condemnation when it was confirmed by Col Tono Suratman and by East Timor police chief Col (Pol) Timbul Silaen in early June. His Aitarak militia used the police station at Komoro, Dili, as its base. Apart from Guterres' own record of violence, the appointment contravened the UN Agreement, which made the Indonesian police alone responsible for security in East Timor.
Thereafter Eurico Guterres attended numerous militia rallies around East Timor, which were always well attended by government and military officials. At one such rally in Atsabae near Maliana at the end of April he admitted having ordered the killings at Manuel Carrascalao's house, saying the aim was to kill Carrascalao himself.
On 10-11 May 99 he led an attack on Quintal Bo'ot village in Santa Cruz, a suburb of Dili, that left several civilians dead.
On 24 July 1999, according to one (uncorroborated) report, Eurico Guterres and Maj-Gen Zacky Anwar Makarim were both present at a secret six-hour meeting of militia and military leaders in Dili to plan action after the ballot. Makarim gave Guterres a list of 370 people to be eliminated, as well as detailed plans to instigate riots, target and assassinate proindependence leaders, and fully mobilise militias and the armed forces.
On 26 August 1999, just four days before the ballot, Guterres told a rally of 15,000 in Dili that the city would become a 'sea of fire' if independence was declared. Afterwards his men killed two pro-independence East Timorese while police looked on passively.
In the critical days between 30 August and 6 September 1999 Guterres and his men ruled the streets of Dili, and controlled the harbour and airport, issuing 'exit permits' to ensure no pro-independence people escaped his net. They were also busy burning down the city and forcibly organising everyone in Dili onto any available transport for the evacuation to West Timor.
On 5 September men in Aitarak uniform and led by Mateus Carvalho, with the participation of TNI officer Capt Agus Suwarno, attacked the diocesan chambers (Camra Eclesestica), leaving an estimated 15 dead and 15-20 wounded.
The next day, 6 September, Aitarak militiamen and TNI personnel including Kopassus elite troops, totalling about 100 men and allegedly led by Kostrad officers, torched the official residence of Bishop Belo. More than 5000 refugees sheltering there were moved first to the police headquarters in Dili and then into Indonesian-controlled West Timor. At least one person was killed (see LtCol Sujarwo).
On 28 February 2003 Eurico Guterres was indicted again before the Dili special panel, with several others, for his role in the attack on the Dili diocese and Bishop Belo’s house on 5 and 6 September 1999 respectively, and for his role in forcibly transferrring over 25,000 civilians from Dili to West Timor in the period 5 to 9 September. Those indicted at this time, all in absentia, were (Case 13/ 2003):
- Eurico Guterres, Aitarak commander
- Col (Pol) Timbul Silaen, East Timor police chief
- Capt Agus Suwarno, officer at East Timor military command
- Adolfo Viera Liao, TNI soldier
- Mateus de Carvalho, Aitarak D Company commander in Hera
- Marcelino [last name unknown], deputy commander of Aitarak C Company, based in Becora, Dili
- Caetano da Silva, Aitarak post commander under Marcelino’s command
- Antonio Ximenes Brito, Aitarak militia member
After the Indonesian pullout, Eurico Guterres moved to Kupang, where he established a newspaper (Timor File), and the Gema Insan Bumi Lorosae Foundation.
Despite his role in the violence in East Timor both before and immediately after the 30 August 1999 ballot, Eurico Guterres continued to have regular meetings with senior military and civilian government officials, who treated him like a government functionary. In June 1999 he was selected by the state party Golkar to stand for election in the national parliament. In March 2000 he left Golkar for the PDIP, saying this party had done more than any other to help keep East Timor within Indonesia. In August 2000 PDIP chairperson Megawati made him chief of Banteng Pemuda, a PDIP security group.
When questioned by KPP HAM in December 1999, he was unrepentant about his own role and blamed President Habibie for the violence in East Timor (through the latter's decision to abandon the province).
Although the militias were ostensibly disbanded at a ceremony in December 1999, in fact the militia command structure remained intact, as was demonstrated by their subsequent control over the refugee camps in West Timor, and their organised presence at the funeral of Moruk in September 2000.
If, overseas, Guterres became a symbol of the Indonesian violence in East Timor, within Indonesia he became a national hero of sorts who enjoyed almost complete impunity. In June and July 2000 police in Kupang charged him for shooting at the tyres of a car, but the judge said he could not decide if Guterres was civilian or military and therefore dismissed the charge as 'vague'. On 30 August 2000, the anniversary of the East Timor ballot, Guterres led a violent rally in Kupang at which journalists were beaten up and windows smashed at the office of the Nusa Tenggara Timur governor.
In October 2000 a judge in Dili (now under Untaet administration) named Eurico Guterres a suspect for crimes against humanity, issued an arrest warrant, and applied to Indonesia to have him extradited. Jakarta refused to extradite Guterres but invited an Untaet team to come to Jakarta to interview him. However, he refused to meet Untaet officials who had been permitted to come to Jakarta in March 2001.
Eurico Guterres was only indicted within Indonesia after considerable prevarication. In October 2000, under considerable international pressure (foreign governments were meeting in Tokyo at the time under the aegis of CGI to consider fresh loans to Indonesia), police in Jakarta put him up on a weapons charge. The Jakarta court initially dismissed the charge on a technicality, but police persisted and he was eventually (30 April 2001) sentenced to six months prison. Despite considerable international outrage about the lightness of the sentence, he was allowed to serve most of it under house arrest in a comfortable Jakarta residence. He was released in June 2001.
Throughout these proceedings Eurico Guterres had the vocal support of most of the political elite, as represented by parliamentary speakers Amien Rais and Akbar Tanjung. A PDIP group in Semarang claiming to represent several political parties awarded him the 'Red and White Award' in November 2000.
In May 2001, while still in 'prison', he was made head of an 'Anti Communist Alliance' (AAK) that intimidated bookshops around Indonesia to withdraw 'communist' books from its shelves. The alliance was allegedly supported by figures within Golkar.
Although the Attorney General had added his name in October 2000 to a list of men suspected of human rights abuse, it was dropped again in May 2001 following pressure on President Wahid by the military. Nevertheless, on 31 May 2002 Eurico Guterres was formally indicted before the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in Indonesia with crimes against humanity. He was accused of failing to prevent his Aitarak and other PPI militias from attacking Manuel Carrascalao's house on 17 April following his provocative speech.
On 27 November 2002 the Indonesian court sentenced him to ten years imprisonment. Amid a string of acquittals, it was the longest of only two convictions handed down (the other was against Abilio Soares, also East Timorese). However, he remained free while awaiting an appeal – a solution to please all sides increasingly being adopted by judges in Jakarta.
Other former Aitarak members indicted in Dili are these:
- Aje Pareira (26) and Beni Ludji (40) were arrested near the border in East Timor in April 2003. They were charged in Dili with murdering Guido Ximenes Goviea, village head of Mascarenhas, Dili, in September 1999. Beni Ludji is an Indonesian and a former TNI soldier with Battalion 745 based in Baucau, was Aitarak Company A commander in 1999. He was in charge of operations for the Aitarak militia. He was carrying a SGI card when arrested.
- Domingos Amati and Francisco Matos were indicted before the Dili special panel (Case 12/ 2003) for murdering a passerby in Hera, Dili district, on 5 September 1999.
Eurico Guterres turned 28 in 1999. He was born in Uatulari, near Viqueque in eastern East Timor. He explains his pro-Indonesian feelings by saying his parents were killed by Fretilin, but independent sources say they were in fact killed by TNI in 1976 for their pro-Fretilin views. He was brought up by an Indonesian civil servant in Viqueque, then moved to Dili where he did his junior high school. He could not complete his senior high school education at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic school in Becora, Dili. At this time he became involved in (semi-)criminal and petty gangster activity, especially at the government-protected gambling hall (bola guling) at Tacitolu, Dili. He is also thought to have been an activist in the pro-independence clandestine movement Santo Antonio.
In 1988 military intelligence detained him for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate President Suharto, who visited Dili in October of that year. From that time on he was 'turned' and became an informer for Kopassus. The energetic counter-insurgency officer Prabowo Subianto took a special interest in his abilities. He continued as a double agent for some time, apparently playing a role in the pro-independence protests during the pope's visit in late 1989, but after that he was expelled from the movement. He went to Suai but still did not finish his high school.
In 1994 Prabowo recruited him into Gardapaksi. The organisation gave cheap loans to help unemployed young people start small businesses, but also used them as informants and to man pro-military vigilante squads. Governor Abilio Soares strongly supported Gardapaksi, which developed a record of human rights abuse.
The military supposedly arranged a high school graduation certificate that allowed him to attend the Economics Institute (Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Ekonomi, STIE, run by pro-integrationist Filomeno Hornay) in Dili in 1997. Here too he completed only three semesters. He is married to the niece of Bishop Nascimento of Baucau, and has three children.