Eurico Barros Gomes Guterres was born in 1971 in Watulari in East Timor. He has no particular educational background, having never been awarded any academic qualifications. At an early stage he is said to have become an army informant and, in 1999, to have joined Gardapaksi, a Timorese militia force in favour of uniting East Timor with Indonesia. In 1999, he became Commander of this organisation, which was renamed Aitarak.
The accusations of criminal responsibility against him go back to the events which took place in East Timor in 1999. Around 1400 people were killed in the months leading up to a referendum on independence for the region, organised by the United Nations on 30 August 1999, and during the days following this vote. In addition, more than 250’000 people were transferred by force or fled to West Timor or Indonesia. A large number of people were also victims of other violations of human rights, notably of torture and rape. These crimes were carried out by the militia with the support and coordination of members of the armed forces, the police and the Indonesian Civil Authorities in order to influence the outcome of the referendum and to upset adoption of the results of the referendum.
At the time the events took place, Eurico Guterres was commander of Aitarak, the militia force which was the most heavily involved in the crimes committed in Dili. In this role, he is said to have planned, in collaboration with the army and the Indonesian police, the whole campaign aimed at destabilising the referendum process. Furthermore he is accused of being directly responsible for several murders and acts of torture. In particular, he is said to have taken part in the attack against the home of the independence leader Manuel Carrascalao on 17 April 1999, against the diocesan buildings in Dili on 5 September 1999, and, on 6 September 1999, against the residence of bishop Belo where around 5000 people had taken refuge. He is also reported to have participated in the forced transfer of Timorese civilians.
On 31 May 2002, Eurico Guterres was indicted for crimes against humanity by the Ad-Hoc Indonesian Human Rights Court for East Timor.