Nazario Vital S [Jaime] Corte Real
Commander Ablai militia, Same (Manufahi district)
Ablai is accused of intimidating and sometimes killing pro-independence activists especially in the aftermath of the 30 August 1999 ballot. It was closely related to the Indonesian military. An Indonesian newspaper reported that in April 1999 Ablai had 400 men and 70 firearms. Its name is an acronym for 'Aku Berjuang Lestarikan Amanat Integrasi' ('I will fight to Preserve the Mandate for Integration').
Nazario Vital S Corte Real, the general chairman of Ablai, had held various government positions in Same since early in the Indonesian period. In 1999 he worked as a district government official (Asisten I Tatapraja Sekwilda Manufahi). Nazario is alleged to have been close to the Kopassus intelligence group SGI, and set up Ablai at their instructions. Ablai was officially inaugurated on 11 March 1999. The SGI commander at this time was LtCol Yayat Sudrajat. The military district commander in Manufahi in 1999 was at first LtCol Suwondo, and then Maj Sinaga. Ablai also received support from Battalion 301, commanded by Maj Rahmat Pribadi.
Nazario Corte Real's deputies in Ablai were:
- Francisco Capela (Kapela Ferao) and
- Guilhermino Marcal, former head of Holarua village
Nazario's house was the centre of radio communications for Ablai. The militia was highly decentralised. He claimed in an interview that it had 5,000 members divided into 16 'companies', one of them entirely female. He traced the militia's origins to the need to respond to Falintil pressure following a Falintil ambush on a group that included Kopassus soldiers at Weberek, in the Same area, on 29 October 1998. In reality it had about 2000 members.
Ablai militiamen in Same township attempted to hinder villagers from registering for the Unamet ballot from early June 1999 onwards. Among several reports of Ablai terror against alleged pro-independence supporters was one claiming Ablai militiamen stabbed Antero da Costa at the militia post in the vicinity of Same township on 6 August 1999. Ablai received Indonesian government funding. A leaked letter from East Timor governor Abilio Soares mentions Ablai slated to receive World Bank poverty relief funds.
An intercepted TNI radio communication on 27 August 1999, just before the ballot, included orders to the Ablai militia. This demonstrated a close link between the military and the militia. The order included last-minute efforts to pressure 'our people' standing in the queue to vote in the ballot.
In the immediate ballot aftermath, Unamet Military Liaison Officers in Same observed heavily armed Ablai militiamen (carrying a grenade launcher among others). The militiamen threatened to kill any local Unamet staff found in a UN vehicle. At 10:00 am on 4 September Ablai militiamen forced Unamet staff to evacuate the Same post, and four local staff disappeared.
A 19-year old Ablai member confessed to an NGO observer on 23 September 1999 that after the ballot he took part in coordination meetings with the Indonesian military, and engaged in house burnings and killing alleged pro-independence supporters in Same.
Four members of Tim Sasurut Ablai, a militia within the overall Ablai militia structure (presumably one of Nazario's 'companies'), were indicted on 7 August 2001 for crimes against humanity before the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court. They were Benjamin Sarmento, Romeiro Tilman, Joao Sarmento and Domingos Mendonca. Operating from Leubrema village, near Orema village in Same sub-district , Manufahi. They were accused of murdering seven individuals whom they suspected of pro-independence sentiments at various times between April and September 1999. They also carried out the forced deportation of the local population to West Timor after 4 September. The commander of this Tim Sasurut Ablai, Bernadino [Bernardino] da Costa, alias Mata Satu, was charged in absentia with crimes against humanity in the Dili district court on 13 February 2002 over these same murders. He was presumed to be in (Indonesian) West Timor.
Mateus Tilman, an Ablai militia member in Holarua village,was found guilty of attempting to murder Antwer Laranzeira and his three daughters Mariana Cortreal, Manuela Cortreal and Teresina Carvalho, by burning down their houses in Holarua on 2 September 1999. He was sentenced to four years prison in Dili.
Ablai activities were also reported outside the Manufahi district. On 21 May 1999, Ablai members arrested Anina, a 30-year old woman in Letefoho village south of Ermera, accusing her of sending food to Falintil. She was tortured before being released a week later.
Nazario was born in Hatu-Udo village, Ainaro, and was in his late thirties in 1999. He had completed junior high school when Indonesia invaded, at which time he narrowly escaped execution by Fretilin for pro-Indonesian sympathies. Early on in the Indonesian invasion he moved to Manufahi district and began work in the district government. He was a candidate for district head (bupati) in 1997, but failed due to inadequate support from the armed forces.