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District commander
District command (Kodim) 1635

LtCol (Inf) Ahmad Masagus

Military district commander of Covalima, based in Suai (Komandan Kodim Covalima/ Suai 1635)

Masagus was (de facto if not de jure) responsible for security in Suai throughout 1999. Unamet Chief Executive Ian Martin writes that he called for his removal following a visit to the area on 18 August 1999, because he and his men were 'contributing to rather than addressing the impunity of the militia, some of whom were serving members of the TNI. .... I now wrote to [head of Indonesian Task Force Ambassador Agus] Tarmidzi and CMLO Rezaq to [MajGen] Zacky [Anwar Makarim], listing names which included the district commanders in Bobonaro and Cova Lima.'[1]

The Australian observer James Fox wrote: 'The local military commander stationed in Covalima, who was the chief organiser of the campaign of violence in the district, was reputed to be among the most vicious local commanders in East Timor.'[2]

Ahmad Masagus was not formally responsible for Suai at the time of the massacre in the church on 6 September 1999, as the Suai command was briefly held by LtCol (CZI) Lilik Kushadiyanto between 29 August and 8 September. However, he was in Suai at the time of the attack. Apparently unaware of the change in command, the Udayana regional military command told Australian journalist Hamish McDonald that the officer responsible for Suai on the day the incident occurred was LtCol Ahmad Masagus.[3] The final KPP HAM report said he was present in front of the Suai church at the time militias were attacking the refugees inside on 6 September 1999. The Dili indictment against him (clause 310) said that together with Lt Sugito he collected bodies from the massacre site the next day and disposed of them. 

The two strongest militia groups in the Suai area at the time were Laksaur (Eagle) and Mahidi. Mahidi was led by Vasco da Cruz. Laksaur was led by Olivio Mendoza Moruk. According to the Dili indictment against him, LtCol Ahmad Masagusí personal role in Laksaurís abuses began when he and district chief Col Herman Sediono established the pro-autonomy organisation FPDK in February 1999 and told them to form the Laksaur militia, which they did in April. Kopassus provided the training for the militia between March and April. Assisted by his chief of staff Capt Ahmad Syamsuddin, LtCol Ahmad Masagus provided weapons for them. Laksaur had its headquarters in subdistrict military command headquarters (koramil) in several places. His subordinates, including his subdistrict military commander (danramil), led and supported the Laksaur militia.

On 8 April 2003 LtCol Ahmad Masagus was one of 16 Abri members indicted in absentia with crimes against humanity before the special panel in Dili over the Suai massacre. For details see Lilik Kushadiyanto.

The worst single event in Covalima after the Suai church massacre was a massacre of 16 people at Laktos village, in Fohorem subdistrict west of Suai, on 12 September. It was led by Lt Ari of Battalion 143 (described under LtCol Saripudin).

Afterwards Masagus was under investigation by military prosecutors for having shot Private (Praka) Agusto da Carmo, evidently in Surabaya.[4]

Extra Information

Implicated in Events:
Suai - 6/09/1999 - Suai church massacre

Current Status:
T - Committed for trial in East Timor, some already sentenced.

K - 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.

D - Dunn. The report of James Dunn, consultant to the Untaet Prosecutor General Mr Mohamed Othman, April 2001.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Vasco da Cruz
LtCol Lilik Kushadiyanto
Col Herman Sediono
LtCol (Pol) Gatot Subiaktoro
Lt Sugito
Maj Yakraman Yagus

[1] Ian Martin, Self-determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the ballot, and international intervention, Boulder (Col): Lynne Riener, 2001, pp76-77.

[2] James J Fox, 'Ceremonies of reconciliation as prelude to violence in Suai, East Timor', paper presented at ASAA triennial conference 'Whose millennium?', Melbourne, 4 July 2000, p4.

[3] 'Nuns and priests reported slaughtered', Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 1999; James Fox, 'East Timorís mass for the dead', The Canberra Times, 11 September 1999; James Fox, 'More at stake than independence', Washington Post, 19 September 1999.

[4] 'KPP HAM tetap akan umumkan temuannya: Laksda Yoost Mengko - Jaga kredibilitas', Kompas, 29 Januari 2000; 'PBB: Oknum militer terlibat di Timtim', Bali Post, 30 January 2000.


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