Mateus de Carvalho
Aitarak militia, D Company commander, Hera, Dili district
Mateus de Carvalho is a former village head of Hera, 10 km east of Dili and still in Dili district. He was about 40-45 years old in 1999. In that year he commanded Aitarak’s D Company, based in Hera. His superior was Eurico Guterres. Mateus de Carvalho was indicted before the Dili special panel (Case 13/ 2003) for crimes against humanity.
The most serious charge was that he helped lead a group of Aitarak militia and TNI soldiers in an attack against approximately 300 refugees sheltering at the Dili diocesan offices on 5 September 1999. He had previously been named in the KPP HAM report for the same crime. Capt Agus Suwarno of the Dili district command participated in the attack.
The Dili indictment details how Mateus de Carvalho gathered about 50 armed militia men at the diocesan office on the morning of 5 September. He was armed with a military-issue M-16 semiautomatic rifle. Father Jose Antonio da Costa inside the compound phoned the East Timor police command asking for help. Bishop Belo had also been asking for help from both the police and the military for several days. He was with General Wiranto and other top military officers at Col Nur Muis’ official residence only two kilometres away still pleading for help when the attack was launched at about lunch-time. As the militias moved into the building at lunch-time, screaming and shooting, large numbers of soldiers and police passively observed from nearby. Indeed some were among the attacking party.
After all the occupants had been driven out of the building, the women and children were separated out and taken to the police station. The men were then severely beaten, leaving an estimated 15 individuals dead or disappeared. Fifteen to 20 seriously injured people reported at the Dili National Hospital. The entire compound was destroyed on the direct orders of Carvalho, resulting in the loss of historical archives going back centuries.
Other abuses by Mateus de Carvalho and his militia company were documented by the human rights organisation Yayasan HAK.
On 19 April they forcibly recruited members into their militia, causing 25 families to flee out of the district. The next day they burned and looted 7 houses belonging to alleged independence supporters. The next day again they arrested and tortured 8 young people. Those arrested were handed over to the local military post, then taken to the police, then to jail, whence most were released a few days later. The next day again he and his militia arrrested 18 polytechnic students after inviting them to come to a ‘dialogue’.
On 20 May they caused two students at the nearby polytechnic to disappear, and in June they attempted to arrest a teacher at the college.
On 31 August 1999 his militia company murdered a school teacher at Hera. The victim was also a local Unamet staff member, and on a list of local Unamet staff the local police had demanded from Unamet on the orders of Col (Pol) Timbul Silaen. The next day his militia began shooting wildly in the air to intimidate the population after the independence vote.
Mateus de Carvalho and hundreds of other Aitarak recruits spent a lot of time at Eurico Guterres’ headquarters at the abandoned Tropical Hotel in Dili. ‘We are waiting for money from the local government so we can pay our members' wages,’ he told journalist Jenny Grant in April.