Maj (Inf) Jacob Djoko Sarosa
Commander, Battalion 745 (Lospalos)
KPP HAM recommended Maj Jacob Djoko Sarosa be investigated further by the Attorney General’s office for involvement in the killing of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes on 21 September 1999. It also listed his battalion with many other perpetrators in Appendix 5 of its final report, for killing and burning in the Lospalos and Baucau area in the aftermath of the ballot.
On 6 November 2002 Sarosa was indicted before the Dili Special Panel with crimes against humanity over the same events. The indictment adds many details to a Christian Science Monitor investigation published in March 2000.
Battalion 745 was based at Fuiloro village, about seven kilometres north of Lospalos town. Three of its five companies (A, C and D) were based at Fuiloro, while the others had compounds not far away. The battalion had a record of human rights abuse stretching back to its formation early in the Indonesian occupation. It had many East Timorese soldiers, but East Timorese were never trusted with senior command positions. The East Timorese soldiers in the battalion were the special responsibility of Lt Camilo dos Santos, a platoon commander within D Company. Dos Santos was indicted in Dili with Sarosa. Neither Sarosa nor Dos Santos were in detention, as they were in Indonesia, which refused to cooperate with the East Timorese legal process.
In July 1999, in the runup to the ballot, Maj Sarosa addressed the East Timorese soldiers in the battalion and told them to tell their respective village communities that TNI would never leave East Timor, and anyone voting for independence would be killed. A soldier from the battalion interviewed by CSM said that Jacob Sarosa had previously told them that if pro-independence forces won the referendum, they would have to 'destroy everything'. On the morning of the ballot, 30 August, Sarosa again told his East Timorese soldiers on parade that anyone voting for CNRT would be killed.
Four days after the ballot result was announced on 4 September 1999, battalion 745 soldiers began hunting down and murdering known pro-independence supporters. The Dili indictment details 13 murders committed this way before the battalion withdrew. At one point it describes soldiers going from house to house with a list of 26 names.
One of those murdered had been brought in by Alfa Team militia members – illustrating the close connection between Battalion 745 and this notorious militia, led by Joni Marquez.
The battalion also took part in forcibly deporting the population out of East Timor. The indictment mentions refugees who had been gathered at the battalion base in Fuiloro on 8 September, from whence they were moved to Baucau airport to await air transport to Kupang.
The battalion began to mobilise for withdrawal to (Indonesian) West Timor on 17 September 1999. Using Lautem village, between Lospalos and Baucau in Lautem district, as a staging point, they departed westwards on 20 September. Maj Sarosa told his men that they should be alert and shoot immediately if Falintil took action against them.
The 120 soldiers and their families then departed in a convoy of sixty trucks and sedans, with about forty motorcycles at the head of the convoy. Maj Jacob Sarosa travelled in one of the trucks, while Lt Camilo dos Santos was with the motorcycles at the front. Along the way, Maj Sarosa gave orders via radio to burn houses, and gunfire was heard repeatedly from within the convoy. The first night they stayed at the subdistrict military base at Laga village, Baucau district. The soldiers were shouting ‘burn, burn’.
The next morning, 21 September, once more travelling towards Baucau, Maj Sarosa ordered the convoy to stop at the bridge east of Laleia and shell the surrounding area with mortar and heavy gunfire.
Throughout their two-day journey, soldiers in the convoy picked off people caught unawares by the roadside. The Dili indictment details 12 dead or disappeared, and two injured, as a result of these acts of random violence. This made a total of 25 dead or disappeared.
By the time the battalion arrived in the eastern outskirts of Dili, Interfet troops had landed at Dili airport and were moving out to secure the city. Enterprising foreign journalists were scouting around Dili to observe developments. Two of them, Jon Swain from Britain and Sander Thoenes from the Netherlands, were unlucky enough to run into Battalion 745, about an hour apart.
Maj Sarosa and Lt Camilo dos Santos personally took part in the attack on Swain’s taxi. Swain and his American camera man escaped amid a hail of bullets, but his East Timorese driver lost an eye and his interpreter disappeared. About an hour later, Dos Santos personally executed Sander Thoenes. The murder of Thoenes in particular attracted considerable international attention, including an investigation by Dutch police.
When the battalion finally drove into Dili proper, Maj Sarosa ordered his soldiers to stop shooting because Interfet was already there. There was no more shooting from the convoy that day.
When Maj Sarosa reported to his superior, East Timor commander Col Nur Muis, the latter was not happy about the attack on Swain, who had escaped and was sure to create problems. Sarosa later admitted in an interview that he had been given a week’s detention by Col Nur Muis for failing to maintain discipline during the incident.
This slight reprimand was never officially acknowledged. Instead, Nur Muis told the Battalion 745 soldiers to refuel, eat and depart for Kupang as soon as possible, adding they should not even tell their wives what they had done on their journey to Dili.
Jacob Sarosa appeared before the Indonesian Attorney General's joint investigative team for East Timor human rights abuses on or about 4 May 2000, when he confirmed that his superior [Muis] had told him to ‘mobilise’ troops after the East Timor ballot on August 30. He also confessed that he told his troops to intimidate the press by damaging their cars and cameras (as quoted by his lawyer Herman Umar). However, he was not charged in Indonesia.
Maj Sarosa took over command of Battalion 745 from Maj (Inf) Kemal S some time in 1999. CDPM has established a list of 29 officers within this battalion as of November 1998.
Jacob Sarosa, from Java, graduated from the military academy in 1984. He had six months training in the USA at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1990. Sarosa is a young high flier, and after East Timor he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Battalion 745, based in the eastern end of East Timor, was one of two attached to the territorial command. The other was 744.
Committed for trial in East Timor, some already sentenced.
KPP HAM. Listed in the 31/01/2000 report of the Indonesian commission of inquiry into atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999. More junior figures in Appendix 5 of the final report are added here under their superiors.
See map of location
This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Lt Camilo dos Santos
Col Nur Muis