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Francisco Geger

29.05.2012 ( Last modified: 02.06.2016 )
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facts

Francisco Pedro Geger was born in December 1969 and a farmer in East Timor. He joined the FIRMI militia in 1999. The FIRMI militia was a group organised and controlled by the Indonesian Armed Forces and fighting against the independence of East Timor.

The FIRMI is accused of having launched a campaign of terror against people in East Timor, especially against those suspected of supporting the independence of East Timor. This campaign involved acts of intimidation and punishments by the Indonesian Armed Forces and affiliated militias of East Timor.

An active participant in the militia, Francisco Pedro Geger wasn involved in different criminal acts including the capture, torture, murder and attempted murder of several independence supporters.

On 2 September 1999, the FIRMI militia arrested eight pro-independence supporters and detained them in the house of a militia member until 6 September 1999. During that period, they were severely beaten by members of the militia. Francisco Geger was in charge of securing the doors of the house where the captured were detained, as such preventing any attempt by the detainees to escape.

On 15 September 1999, the militia captured three independence supporters, and drove them to a dark place where two of them were killed while one managed to escape.Francisco Geger killed one by stabbing him in chest, and participated in the killing of the other one conjointly with other militia members.

Charges were brought against Francisco Geger before one of the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (District Court of Dili) created by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor to exercise jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed during the fight for independence in East Timor.

 

legal procedure

Charges were brought against Francisco Geger before one of the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (District Court of Dili) created by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor to exercise jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed during the fight for independence in East Timor.

An indictment was first submitted by the prosecution on 13 January 2001. It was however dismissed by the Court because of incoherence in the charges brought against the accused. The Court then dismissed the whole case in May 2001, but following a new indictment in January 2002, the Court resumed the proceedings against Francisco Geger and gave its final judgement in April 2005.

The accused pleaded guilty of the charges brought against him.

With regard to the first set of acts, the accused was in charge of guarding the doors of the house where several independence supporters were tortured. The Court considered those acts to be constitutive of crimes against humanity of other inhumane acts as established by international criminal statutes including article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter and article 5 of the ICTY Statute. The Court considered that the gravity threshold had been reached. Indeed, despite no direct participation of Francisco Gegerin the acts of torture, his role as a guardian allowed them to happen. Therefore, the defendant was held responsible for aiding the commission of the crimes against humanity of other inhumane acts, which entails the same responsibility as directly committing those crimes.

With regard to the killings, the Court found the accused guilty of crimes against humanity of murder individually or jointly with another.

Additionally, the Court held Francisco Geger guiltyof having committed a crime against humanity of attempted murder. The Court considered that the acts had substantially started and clearly indicated an intent to murder the kidnapped.

Before deciding on the appropriate sentence, the Court looked into the circumstances of the criminal acts. It considered the fact that the accused joined the militia without the existence of any specific threat to be an aggravating circumstance. Furthermore, the fact that he was responsible for guarding a village chief confirms his position as an important member of the militia. Also, he did not adequately demonstrate that he committed his acts under the legitimate defence ground of duress. Additionally, one of the persons killed being the defendant’s cousin made the act of murder “particularly deplorable”.

However, the guilty plea and voluntary cooperation with the investigators had to be considered as mitigating circumstances by the Court. In addition, the accused was remorseful and apologised to the families of the victims. He was considered as a victim of the “despicable” Indonesian system, even though nothing could guarantee that he would not commit similar acts in the future.

As a result, on 31 March 2005 the Special Panels for Serious Crimes of the District Court of Dili sentenced Francisco Geger to a total prison sentence of eight years for the commission of crimes against humanity.

 

context

On the 25 October 1999, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted Resolution 1272, whereby it was decided to create a United Nations Transitional Administration of East Timor (UNTAET). By regulation 2000/11 of 6 March 2000, UNTAET created a judicial system aimed specifically at prosecuting the following crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, sexual offences and torture.

Jurisdiction to prosecute these particularly serious crimes was conferred on the Dili District Court, sitting in a special configuration, consisting of both Timorese and international judges. Judgements handed down by this Court could be brought before an Appeals Court also located in Dili and likewise composed of both Timorese and international judges. The authorities for the prosecution of the Dili District Court had, until  December 2004, issued 90 bills of indictment with charges laid against 377 people. Since the Court commenced hearings, numerous cases were settled by a Trial Chamber, resulting in 74 convictions (by early December 2004), particularly for murder or crimes against humanity. Sentences ranging from 11 months to 33 years and four months imprisonment were handed down. Several cases were brought before the Appeals Court, which rendered its verdict in some of these cases.

Parallel to the trials being heard in Dili, Indonesia also set up a procedure aimed at prosecuting the atrocities committed in East Timor. A National Commission of Enquiry, whose final report was published on 31 January 2000, leveled accusations directly against 33 individuals, including several military leaders. A Human Rights Tribunal, an ad hoc jurisdiction with the specific task of judging these individuals, was subsequently set up. Of the 33 persons designated by the Commission of Enquiry, only 18 were convicted. 12 were acquitted by the lower court, 4 on appeal and 1 on final appeal before the Supreme Court. The only person to be convicted is Eurico Guterres, whose prison term was fixed at 10 years by the Indonesian Supreme Court on March 13, 2006.  In the final outcome, the quasi-totality of those accused of crimes committed in East Timor, were thus acquitted by the Indonesian Human Rights Tribunal. Doubts about the impartiality of this organism were however raised by many human rights organisations, in particular, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition for International Justice.

 

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