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District commander
District command (Kodim) 1631

LtCol (Art) Lexi Herson Pontoh

Military district commander of Manatuto (Dandim 1631), August-September 1999

LtCol Lexi Herson Pontoh replaced LtCol Sulastiyo in July 1999.[1] East Timorese human rights organisations immediately before the ballot reported several incidents in which soldiers from the Manatuto military district (Kodim Manatuto) worked with militias to intimidate civilians.

On 19 August at about 11:00am, Kodim Manatuto soldiers and the local Mahadomi militia destroyed the Manatuto branch office of the pro-independence political party CNRT. Four days earlier, armed militia and Kodim personnel (among them two militia leaders who held civilian jobs at Kodim, Alexio de Carvalho and Filomeno Barreto [Brito]) had paraded around town taking down CNRT election symbols (see Vidal Doutel Sarmento). They alleged CNRT had ripped an Indonesian flag. An independent investigation showed the allegation had no basis.[2]

The day before the ballot, a militia group led by Manatuto district head Vidal Doutel Sarmento and two of his section commanders (civilian employees at the Kodim command), seized the car of the local Catholic parish and looted its contents. The related militia, Morok, threatened the people of nearby Soibada and Laclubar with a 'flood of blood, no matter what the result of the ballot should be'.[3]

The day after the vote, the international observers' group IFET-OP said its team was evacuated from Manatuto after the local military commander [Lexi Herson Pontoh] told the foreigners he could not guarantee their security because he was unable to control the militias.[4]

On 7 September 1999, soldiers from the Laclo subdistrict command (Koramil 1631-04) were withdrawing from their headquarters with their goods and families in two trucks and a pickup when they stopped at the river crossing at Lower Laclo. Three East Timorese soldiers got out and fired on a group of civilians watching the departure. Two of the civilians died and four were injured.[5] The subdistrict commander at Laclo may have been Yohanes Kijong. At the same time a militia group led by Filomeno Brito fired on another nearby group of civilians, leaving two dead and two injured (see Vidal Doutel Sarmento).

Lexi Herson graduated from the military academy in 1983. After East Timor he became military district commander in Kefamenanu in West Timor.

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:
Vidal Doutel Sarmento
LtCol Sulastiyo

[1] 'History of Manatuto from Sebastiao Manuel de Carvalho ref. Actions of 1999', Dili: UN Human Rights Unit; TNI Watch! 'Komisi Ham PBB daftar nama jenderal Indonesia', posted to SiaR News Service, 29 September 1999.

[2] 'Yayasan HAK> Gelombang kekerasan adalah sabotase terhadap jajak pendapat: Laporan pemantauan 22 Agustus 1999', MateBEAN, 20 August 1999.

[3] 'Fortilos> Laporan harian Timor Lorosae: Apa rencana TNI dan Polri? (3)', MateBEAN, 29 August 1999.

[4] 'IFET-OP warns of ominous signs of renewed paramilitary violence in aftermath of vote', International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP), media release, 1 September 1999.

[5] See indictment of Vidal Doutel Sarmento and others at the Dili Special Panel, available online at


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