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Mahidi militia

Vasco da Cruz

Mahidi militia (Mati Hidup Integrasi dengan Indonesia) company commander, Suai

Aged 38 in 1999, Vasco da Cruz was local police chief in the village of Zumalai near Suai 1983-93. After that he became Zumalai village head, a post he retained also after forming a Covalima branch of the Mahidi militia in February 1999. Mahidi's original base was in the neighbouring district of Ainaro. His superior was Cancio de Carvalho. In Covalima it worked closely with district military commander LtCol Ahmad Masagus. Unamet chief Ian Martin on 10 June 1999 questioned Suai officials over da Cruz' responsibility for two deaths on 8 June 1999, and several other deaths on 5 April 1999.

Indonesian military sources said he signed a 'truce' agreement with Falintil in the Suai region on 30 June 1999.

Vasco da Cruz was mentioned in the executive summary of the report by the Indonesian commission of inquiry into atrocities committed in East Timor (KPP HAM) over his involvement in the Suai church massacre of 6 September 1999. His name did not appear in the final report, but the militia he helped lead does. The Indonesian Attorney General's Department initially had him on their list for prosecution too but then dropped him in April 2001 because other militia witnesses able to testify against him (Martinus Bere, Manek) 'could not be found'.[1]

On 28 February 2003 he was indicted in absentia for crimes against humanity before the Dili special panel. The indictment was for the severe torture of five perceived independence supporters at his home, which was also the local Mahidi headquarters, at various times in March and April 1999. One of these victims was shot dead. TNI members were among those accepting orders from Vasco da Cruz in these acts. The same indictment, for a range of abuses, mentions Cancio de Carvalho and 20 other Mahidi members.

Helping lead the Mahidi company in Covalima district with Vasco da Cruz was civil servant Domingos Alves. He was indicted in absentia in Dili together with Vasco da Cruz (see Cancio de Carvalho). According to some testimony, Domingos Alves shot dead one of the priests during the Suai church massacre, Father Francisco Soares.[2]

Extra Information

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

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.

See map of location

This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Cancio Lopes de Carvalho
LtCol Lilik Kushadiyanto
LtCol Ahmad Masagus

[1] 'Militia leaders to skip trials for East Timor violence', AFP, 25 April 2001; 'Political overview Atambua-Cova Lima-Ainaro 15-17 June 1999', United Nations Mission in East Timor (Unamet), POL, 18 June 1999 (leaked Unamet internal document); 'Group of independence fighters sign truce in East Timor', AFP, 30 June 1999; Case 6/ 2003, Serious Crimes trial documents (



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