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East Timor: militia member sentenced in murder of local UN worker

East Timor: militia member sentenced in murder of local UN worker

A former East Timorese militia member has been given a 15-year sentence for murdering a United Nations official during the violence that followed the territory's 1999 vote for independence.

Agustinho da Costa, who was a member of the Team Pancasila Pemuda militia group, was convicted yesterday of murdering Manuel de Oliveira, a local staff member of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) who had been beaten and stabbed to death on 31 August 1999. Mr. da Costa claimed that Indonesian soldiers had identified Mr. de Oliveira as a member of the pro-independence guerrilla group FALINTIL.

This is the first conviction for the murders of nine UNAMET local personnel who were killed during the violence surrounding the 30 August 1999 Popular Consultation.

Meanwhile, preparations continued for next month's elections of an 88-seat Constituent Assembly with the posting of the preliminary list of eligible voters for a 10-day exhibition-and-challenge period.

More than 70 exhibition-and-challenge sites opened on Monday and will be operating until 25 July. At least one mobile team will be operating in each of East Timor's 65 subdistricts.

Sixteen political parties will be fielding a total of 963 candidates for national representatives, with nearly one-third (255) of them women, and 85 candidates for district representatives, of whom only five are women.