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Guilherme dos Santos     

District head (bupati) of Bobonaro (based in Maliana)

Guilherme dos Santos became district head of Bobonaro in 1990 (or 1995?). Before that he chaired the East Timor provincial assembly (DPRD). His predecessor was Joao Tavares, one of the most senior East Timorese to assist the Indonesian invasion in 1975. He was indicted in absentia in Dili on 10 July 2003 for crimes against humanity over his role in the Maliana police station massacre of 8 September 1999 (see LtCol Burhanuddin Siagian).

He played a significant role in building the militias by encouraging his civil servants to participate in their criminal militia activity. For example Manuel Gama, his head of finance at the district government, Jose Monis da Cruz, his head of development, and Antonio Mendonca, first assistant district head, all supported the militias in practical ways. Others became DMP militia members – for example Leonito Martins, Bernardino, and Joao (aka Laho). According to the Dili indictment (clause 152), he also regularly diverted funds from the district social and development budget to FPDK and PPI leaders. Throughout the year he often took part in closed and open meetings to make practical decisions on militia policy.

On 24 March 1999 Guilherme dos Santo issued an instruction requiring all civil servants in the town of Maliana to fill in a form stating if they supported independence.[1]

He frequently endorsed violence to resist the planned UN ballot or to influence its outcome. On 8 April 1999 his district hosted a show of force of hundreds of armed militias from all over East Timor, where the pro-Indonesian option in the UN ballot was canvassed militantly in front of military and civilian officials.[2]

In June 1999 he appeared to approve of an attack on relatives of prominent East Timorese human rights campaigner Aniceto Guterres, saying 'If they [human rights campaigners] come here, I'll deal with them'.[3]

On 7 July 1999, after he had addressed a pro-autonomy (anti-independence) rally, he beat and then threatened to kill his own wife for saying she preferred independence. She was evacuated for medical treatment.[4]

A self-confessed 'loud-mouth', he in mid-July 1999 threatened to kill Australian UN personnel as part of a plan to force the closure of the local UN office. Dos Santos enjoyed close contact with militia leaders and praised pro-integration Indonesian army officers.[5]

On 10 August, according to the Dili indictment (clauses 48-49) he helped chair a meeting at his office to decide how the militias would react to an Indonesian loss in the ballot. Also present were LtCol Burhanuddin Siagian, Lt Sutrisno, Joao Tavares, and Jorge Tavares, as well as all village heads and militia leaders. The meeting agreed that militias would try to provoke Falintil into a reaction, so the militias could be mobilised to kill proindependence supporters. When Guilherme dos Santos and Joao Tavares suggested making a list of proindependence supporters, Burhanuddin Siagian said he would supply weapons to kill them.

In the runup to the 30 August 1999 UN ballot, he exacerbated an already serious refugee problem by telling people it was better flee to West Timor than face the consequences of voting for independence. Militias operating in his area of responsibility had threatened to unleash 'war' if the people rejected the pro-Indonesian autonomy option. 'If you want to be safe', Guilherme dos Santos said, 'leave Bobonaro and flee to Atambua. You don't have any money [to flee], but I have lots of money so I can live anywhere, so long as it's not in East Timor'.[6]

He also hampered the registration process by ordering police, military and militias in his district to force voters to present no baptismal certificate, as required by the rules. This was done in an attempt to illegally bring in voters from (Indonesian) West Timor. Guilherme dos Santos had discussed a plan to bring in 20,000 Indonesian voters at a meeting on 22 July 1999. 'I do not need to participate in the registration, and as Bobonaro chief I will tell my people not to participate in the registration,' he told the Indonesian official news agency Antara.[7]

These tactics led Unamet chief executive Ian Martin to complain in writing to the head of the Indonesian task force Agus Tarmidzi on 19 August that the Bobonaro district chief and the district military commander (LtCol Burhanuddin Siagian) 'have effectively defied Indonesian Government policy to allow the basic conditions for the popular consultations.'[8]

He was still in charge of Bobonaro on 8 September 1999, when militias, soldiers and police attacked a large number of refugees at the Maliana police station (see LtCol Burhanuddin Siagian). He took no action to stop the violence, which went on into the next day.

In January 2000 he was interrogated by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission in Jakarta.[9] He was earlier down for prosecution by the Indonesian Attorney General’s Department but had slipped off the list unannounced by about May 2000. In August 2000 he was in (Indonesian) West Timor, helping lead Untas, a grouping of East Timorese militia leaders still hoping to reverse the independence process for East Timor.[10]

Two civil servants under his authority in Lolotoe sub-district were in February 2001 indicted before the Serious Crimes Panel in Dili for crimes against humanity:

  • Sabino Gouveia Leite was the chief of Guda neighbourhood, part of Zoilpo village, in the Lolotoe sub-district, near Maliana. Leite was accused of being an accomplice in sexual crimes committed by militia leaders Joao Franca da Silva and Jose Cardoso Ferreira between May and July 1999. In custody in Dili, he went on trial there in March 2002. He was convicted on 20 November 2002 and sentenced to three years prison after pleading guilty. [11]
  •  Francisco Noronha, a civil servant and a TNI intelligence officer, was accused of participating in the same crimes, but has not yet faced trial as he remains at large in Indonesia.

Extra Information

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

A - (Indonesian) Attorney General's Department. Announced as suspects at various times (September 2000 - April 2001), some later dropped, 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.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
LtCol Burhanuddin Siagian
Joao Franca da Silva
Abilio Soares

[1] Karen Polglaze, 'East Timor public servants quizzed over loyalty', AAP, 29 March 1999.

[2] 'Pasukan Perang Pro-Integrasi gelar apel akbar di Maliana', Suara Timor Timur, 9 April 1999; 'Profil "Panglima Perang" Joao Tavares', MateBEAN, 23 April 1999.

[3] 'Parents of Aniceto Guterres Lopes terrorised and their house surrounded', Fortilos, 14 June 1999. Aniceto Guterres comes from the same village (Memo) as Guilherme dos Santos, and had previously clashed with the latter over a human rights issue in 1996.

[4] 'Gara-gara beda pilihan, bupati Bobonaro aniaya istrinya', MateBEAN, 11 July 1999.

[5] 'Mayor threatens to kill Aussies', Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 1999; Mark Dodd, 'Frontier town becomes the UN's acid test', Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 1999 (where Sutrisno's name is mis-spelled Satrisno); Jo Jolly, 'Liaison officer accused of bias', Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 1999.

[6] 'Bupati Bobonaro paksa warganya mengungsi', MateBEAN, 20 July 1999.

[7] 'Yayasan HAK - Komite untuk Jajak Pendapat yang Bebas dan Jujur, Laporan Komite no. 2: Pelanggaran terhadap proses pendaftaran jajak pendapat: 26 juli 1999', MateBEAN, 1 August 1999; 'Yayasan HAK - Komite untuk Jajak Pendapat yang Bebas dan Jujur Yayasan HAK (KUJP-YH): Laporan Pemantauan Masa Pendaftaran, 26 Juli - 8 Agustus 1999' , MateBEAN, 10 August 1999; 'Calon pemilih dicari di daerah sebelah', MateBEAN, 28 July 1999; 'East Timor leader asks UN to simplify ballot requirements', Antara, 23 July 1999.

[8] Don Greenlees and Robert Garran, Deliverance: The inside story of East Timor's fight for freedom, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2002, p.184.

[9] 'Pemerintah tolak peradilan internasional: Tiga ahli luar negeri bantu KPP HAM', Kompas, 22 December 1999.

[10] 'UNTAS regional leadership board in Bobonaro installed' [English translation], Surya Timor, 4 August 2000.

[11] Case 4B/ 2001, Serious Crimes trial documents (


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