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Sgt Joanico [/Juanico] [da Costa] Cesario Belo

Commander Tim Saka militia, Baucau

Tim Saka and Tim Alfa were established in the eastern combat sector (Sektor A) as far back as 1986 (another report says 1983) by a Kopassus officer named Capt Luhut Panjaitan (who later rose to Minister for Industry and Trade under President Abdurrahman Wahid), evidently acting under orders from then Col Prabowo Subianto. Leaked army documents show that both were a regular part of the Indonesian military for combat/ anti-guerrilla operations. Tim Saka's base was in Lai-Sorulai, in Quelicai sub-district below Mount Matebian. Joanico Belo moved from deputy commander into the top position after his superior was killed in 1994. At the end of 1998 it had about 300 members.[1]

In advance of the August 1999 ballot, Tim Saka and TNI soldiers threatened locals with bloodshed if they refused to support East Timor as a part of Indonesia.[2]

On 7 September 1999 he was the leader of a group of militia members and TNI soldiers who prevented local Unamet staff from leaving at the Baucau airport, saying he would let them go to Dili but not to Australia.[3]

However, some reports suggest Tim Saka acted to moderate the influence in Baucau of the more radical Aitarak militia led by Eurico Guterres. This could be one reason why Baucau community leaders did not protest against Joanico Belo's overtures to return in March 2000.[4] Indeed, apart from some intimidation, there are no reports of acts of violence against civilians by this individual or by the militia he led in 1999.[5]

Disappointed at having been dumped by the Indonesian military after the ballot, and anxious to make overtures to Untaet for a return to East Timor, he revealed to foreign reporters in October 2000 that 200 of his men had been trained by Kopassus in Aileu and in the Kopassus base at Cijantung (West Java).[6] A foreign observer in mid-1999 said Joanico Belo openly showed her his identity card as a Kopassus officer.[7]

Joanico Belo came to Untaet-controlled East Timor for a secret one-day 'come and see' visit in March 2000.

Extra Information

Current Status:
2 - Priority 2 for further investigation. Not included in any other formal list, but mentioned in other independent reports, bearing structural responsibility, but with minimal data so far for involvement in ET violence.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Cancio Lopes de Carvalho
MajGen Adam Damiri
Sera Malik
MajGen Kiki Syahnakri

[1] James Dunn, 'Crimes against humanity in East Timor, January to October 1999: Their nature and causes', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2001; 'Getting away with murder: A chronology of Indonesian military sponsored paramilitary and militia atrocities in East Timor from  November 1998 to May 1999', East Timor International Support Center (Etisc), 15 May 1999; 'East Timor: An analysis of Indonesian army documents, October 1998', Tapol Occasional Report No. 26, 15 November 1998.

[2] 'Getting away with murder', Etisc, 15 May 1999, the section for 26 April 1999.

[3] Don Greenlees and Robert Garran, Deliverance: The inside story of East Timor's fight for freedom, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2002, p.218-9.

[4] Mark Dodd, 'Photos reveal violent history', Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 1999.

[5] Appears on one list of possible war crimes suspects ('Ingin Nobel, dapat penjahat perang', Xpos, No 34/II/2, 8 October 1999).

[6] 'Political movements and parties: pro- autonony', East Timor Observatory/Observatório Timor Lste/Observatoire Timor-Oriental (OL01-12/02/2001eng), 13 February 2001, quoting Kyodo Newswires 8 October 2000.

[7] 'Skenario bumi hangus di Loro Sa'e', Tempo, 19 September 1999, pp28-29 (quoting Annette Clear of the Carter Centre). Joanico won TNI praise for planning the capture of Xanana Gusmao in 1992.


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