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Supporters of Eurico rally to seek his release

JAKARTA (JP): More demonstrations of support for arrested East Timor militia leader Eurico Guterres were evident on Monday, with a growing chorus questioning the procedure and motive for his arrest.

Dozens of men, claiming to be Eurico supporters, went to the National Police headquarters here on Monday demanding he be released.

In a two-hour meeting with National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Saleh Saaf, the head of the National Police's Criminal Investigation Insp. Gen. Engkesman R. Hillep and Eurico himself, the protesters, calling themselves the East Timor is Loyal to Indonesia group, insisted that Eurico had not violated the law.

"The Police framed Eurico during the ceremony to make it look like Euricohad provoked (the militiamen) to repossess the guns," one of the protestersMunawir Ali said.

Munawir was referring to a ceremony on Sept. 24 in which the militia surrendered their firearms to the police in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara.

But a commotion broke out following the ceremony as several angry militiamen stormed the police station to reposes the guns.

Police then arrested Eurico on Oct. 4 in Jakarta for allegedly instigating the incident.

Eurico is being charged for violating Article 160 of the Criminal Code which carries a maximum sentence of six years imprisonment.

Eurico had earlier been named by the Attorney General's Office as a suspect in the East Timor human rights violation case, and even President Abdurrahman Wahid had also said that Eurico should be arrested.

Officially Eurico's arrest is not directly related to him being named as a suspect in the human rights case.

"We know where Eurico's detention is leading to," Munawir said. "He will be charged with human rights abuse later. That's nonsense".

Munawir also questioned the arrest, describing it as inappropriate.

"If the police think Eurico's guilty, they should have sent a letter to summon him and he would have come. But police arrested him in a hotel room as if he were a robber," he remarked.

Eurico displayed lots of emotion during the meeting, saying in a tatteredcrying voice:"Don't blame Merah Putih (national flag)".

"The blame is on the traitors of this country!" Eurico added as the blackclad protesters were driven to tears.

In a dramatic display of support, three of the protesters then cut their fingertips and placed the dropping blood on a white cloth.

Head of criminal investigation Engkesman said he would forward the men's comments to his superiors.

Initially Eurico's followers threatened to stay at the headquarters untiltheir leader was released, however Eurico told his men to go home.

"Give me a chance to face this. Things won't change with you being like this. Go back to your homes, and wait for the trial," Eurico said.

Separately, the Indonesian Bar Association (Ikadin) also sent a letter toNational Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro expressing concern over Eurico's arrest.

They said police ignored legal procedure in making the arrest.

Eurico's lawyer Suhardi Somomoeljono earlier said police had failed to show a warrant when they arrested Eurico.

Ikadin member, Petrus Ballapattyona, said that if Eurico had been arrested for commanding his men to repossess the guns, police at the scene when the incident took place should also be held accountable since they didnothing to stop the incident.

"Eurico's arrest is obviously politically motivated," Paskalis said.

Earlier People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais also questionedthe arrest of Eurico.

"It's not that we should defend someone who breaks the law, but it's the way someone like Eurico was arrested, especially since he used to put his life on the line for the republic," Amien said.

"Why are we returning his dedication with animosity".

Amien remarked that Eurico's arrest was probably related to the pressure being applied on Indonesia from Western countries.

Separately on Sunday, Minister of Defense Mahfud M.D. brushed aside demands to release Eurico saying that everything must be in accordance withthe legal process.

Speaking in front of Eurico's followers in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara on Sunday, Mahfud said the government would strictly abide by the law in everycase.

"If you say Eurico isn't guilty, give us proof and present the proof in court," Mahfud said. (jaw/dja)

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