District command (Kodim) 1638
LtCol (Inf) Asep Kuswani [Kuswadi, Kuswandi, Kuswanto, Kuswaya]
Liquica district military commander (Komandan Kodim 1638 Liquica)
This officer (serial no. 29468, 1982 military academy graduate) was appointed to the Liquica district command on 1 October 1997. He was the commanding military authority in the district, and present in his office, at the time of the attack against about 2,000 pro-independence refugees sheltering in and around the home of Father Rafael dos Santos next to the Catholic church in Liquica on 6 April 1999.
In November 2001 he was indicted before the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court with crimes against humanity over this event, and in May 2002 he was similarly indicted before the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in Indonesia.
The attack was conducted by members of the Besi Merah Putih militia (see Leonito Martins), mobile police (Brimob), members of 143 Battalion stationed in Kuswani's district headquarters (see LtCol Saripudin), as well as territorial soldiers under his command. The territorial soldiers were from the Maubara sub-district command (Koramil 1638/ 03 Maubara), under the command of Sgt Carlos dos Amaral, an East Timorese, who was also indicted in Dili. It left between 35 and 59 named individuals dead, according to human rights reports. An eyewitness, local priest Rafael dos Santos, said that soldiers of Kuswani's territorial command took part in the shooting, and that the BMP militia withdrew to his headquarters after the massacre. Kuswani was at his Kodim headquarters, within earshot of the church, during the attack, which went on for a long time. With him at the time were East Timor sub-area commander Col Mudjiono, East Timor SGI chief LtCol Yayat Sudrajat, Liquica district police chief LtCol (Pol) Adios Salova, and Liquica district chief Leonito Martins.
The massed attack on 6 April followed an earlier attack the previous day, in which seven people were wounded by BMP militias. After that earlier attack, jailed East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao had issued a call to the East Timorese to take steps to defend themselves against the civilian militias.
The Besi Merah Putih militia had been formed in Liquica on 8 January 1999. It was led by Manuel de Sousa. Pro-independence sentiment was strong in the town. By early February the militia had caused hundreds (some reports said thousands) of local residents to flee to Dili.
On 13 March a confrontation between BMP and thousands of local demonstrators broke out after the priest Rafael dos Santos' robes were stained with blood because he helped a man injured by the militias. According to rumour, Rafael himself had been injured. Asep Kuswani was among a committee of local government officials in Liquica (Muspida) who listened politely to community protest about the BMP brutality, but did nothing to reign it in.
Shortly after the 5 May agreement was signed that was to bring Unamet to East Timor, Kuswani and police chief Adios Salova warned BMP militia members they should continue their operations but not be seen by journalists or international staff (Dili indictment clause 64).
Twenty individuals have been indicted before the Dili court for crimes against humanity over the Liquica massacre. Eight of these are local military personnel, including Kuswani. Key figures among the others are the following four, all of whom appear repeatedly in the detailed indictment for direct participation as well as command responsibility:
- Capt Purwanto, chief of staff (Kasdim) at the Liquica district military command, who together with Kuswani ordered his men to clean up the church after the massacre and told them not to speak of what they saw on pain of death;
- Sgt-Major Carlos Amaral, sub-district military commander (Danramil) at Maubara and a member of Kopassus, who organised troops and helped dispose of bodies after the Liquica massacre;
- Lt Dominicus Yance Sado, sub-district military commander at Bazartete, Liquica district, who organised soldiers to assist BMP;
- Sgt Tome Diogo, intelligence officer (SGI) at the Liquica district military command. His immediate superior was Lt Syafei Saleh (pasi intel). According to the Dili indictment for the Liquica case (Case 21/ 2001 clause 51), Diogo expanded the BMP organisation from its Maubara base to all three sub-districts in Liquica in April 1999. He also organised the TNI and militia forces that always attended pro-integration rallies held by FPDK in Liquica district (clause 62). Tome Diogo was among those who fired into the church during the Liquica massacre, and afterwards helped dispose of the bodies (clauses 112-113, 119-120). He also took part in murdering three pro-independence supporters near Pilila Beach on 15 April 1999 (clauses 128-132), murdering two more on 27 April (clauses 133-136), and causing another to disappear on 8 August (clauses 141-146). He was also indicted for taking part in the attack on Manuel Carrascalao's house on 17 April (Case 2/ 2002).
In December 2002 Diogo and Henrique Moreira (who had been indicted in Dili with Diogo over Liquica) allegedly ordered several militia groups to conduct raids into East Timor from Atambua in West Timor. The militias used automatic weapons to murder seven former resistance leaders in the villages of Tiarlelo and Laubuno, near Atsabe, on the evening of 4 January 2003.
Another Liquica district command staff member who said he went into the church during the incident was Lt Djoko Waluyo, in charge of socio-political affairs (pasi sospol). He said this while testifying in the Jakarta court hearing case against MajGen Adam Damiri. Djoko Waluyo had been sub-district military commander in Maubara before Carlos Amaral.
District police chief LtCol (Pol) Adios Salova was also indicted in Dili.
Kuswani was recommended for further investigation in Appendix 5 to the final report of KPP HAM. The Indonesian Attorney General's Department then charged him with failing to prevent the Liquica massacre. However, in September 2000 he gave no explanation for not attending an interrogation. Asep Kuswani was acquitted in Jakarta on 29 November 2002. The chief judge declared Kuswani had no relationship with the militia that carried out the atrocity.
Appendix 5 of the KPP HAM report also recommended a considerable number of soldiers under Kuswani's command, as well as a number of individuals without affiliation, for investigation over crimes against humanity in the Liquica massacre. However, none of them were charged in Jakarta.
According to the Dili indictment (clause 173), Kuswani, Adios Salova and Leonito Martins between June and August 1999 repeatedly discussed what they would do if Indonesia lost the referendum. They agreed the population would be deported to West Timor to prove that most Timorese did not support the result.
After the Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor, Asep Kuswani assumed command in the military district of Sikka, Flores.
Committed for trial in East Timor, some already sentenced.
(Indonesian) Attorney General's Department. Announced as suspects at various times (September 2000 - April 2001), some later dropped, some already sentenced.
KPP HAM. Listed in the 31/01/2000 report of the Indonesian commission of inquiry into atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999. More junior figures in Appendix 5 of the final report are added here under their superiors.
See map of location
This individual is also mentioned in these profiles:
Manuel de Sousa
LtCol Yayat Sudrajat
Col Tono Suratman
The Dili case is Case 21/ 2001, Serious Crimes indictment (summary on JSMP website). Military personnel indicted in Dili, besides LtCol Asep Kuswani, were: Kuswani's deputy Capt Purwanto (Liquica military district chief of staff), SgtMaj Carlos Amaral (Maubara sub-district commander, a Kopassus man), Lt Dominicus Yance Sado (Bazartete sub-district commander), Tome Diogo (Kuswani's intelligence officer), Domingos Mendez (soldier in Maubara), Henrique Moreira (soldier in Bazartete), Jorge Veigas (intelligence officer in Maubara). For non-military personnel indicted in the Dili case see Leonito Martins.
The Indonesian court documents are available on the JSMP website (http://www.jsmp.minihub.org/Indonesia/accusedindo.htm). Indicted with Asep Kuswani were LtCol (Pol) Adio Salova and Leonito Martins.
Accounts of the Liquica massacre that include Asep Kuswani's name are: 'Fokupers: Kisah pembantaian di Liquica', Solidamor, 9 April 1999; 'Joint demarche needed on East Timor militias', Human Rights Watch, 9 April 1999; 'Kesaksian Pastor Rafael atas insiden Liquica', Suara Timor Timur, 8 April 1999 (translated in HRW report above); 'The dismissal and indictment of TNI officers for human rights violations in East Timor', Tapol (www.gn.apc.org/tapol), 16 June 1999; Don Greenlees, 'Soldiers watched Timor massacre - Australian embassy report', The Australian, 17 April 1999.
'Membalas teror, membela Merah Putih', Pos Kupang, 14 February 1999.
'Liquica rusuh', Kompas, 14 March 1999; 'Pastor Rafael terluka saat selamatkan Felisberto: Bupati Leonito berlindung di pastoran', Suara Timor Timur, 15 March 1999.
'Kesepakatan bubarkan Besi Merah Putih', Suara Timor Timur, 16 March 1999 (also MateBEAN, 20 March 1999).
See his explanation of the events preceding the church massacre ('Liquica rusuh lagi: 2 tewas, 10 luka dan 8 rrmah dibakar milisi', MateBEAN, 7 April 1999).
'Letkol Asep Kuswandi tidak datang', Kompas, 13 September 2000; Jane Perlez, ‘Indonesian human rights court acquits 4 in East Timor killings’, The New York Times, 1 December 2002; Don Greenlees, ‘No justice after East Timor slaying’, The Australian, 2 December 2002.
Military personnel recommended for investigation in Appendix 5 of the KPP HAM report are: Lt Fransiscus Asisi Ali Baba, Lt Damianus Dapa, 2d Sgt Yakobus (Kodim staff, from Atambua in West Timor), 1st Sgt Tome Maria Goncalves [Tome Diogo?], 1st Sgt Raimundo Cesario, 1st Corp Abilio Martins, 1st Corp Antonio Gomes [Lopes?], 1st Corp Tobias [dos Santos], 2d Pvt Domingos Askopas, Antonio Kopas, Jacinto Pereira, Alberto, Teofilio. The last three unranked individuals are mentioned as soldiers based in Liquica in reports by Dili-based human rights organisations: 'Interim report Liquisa massacre, 05 - 07 April 1999', Yayasan HAK, Dili, East Timor, 14 April 1999; 'Pembantaian di Liquica Timor Leste', Fokupers, 9 April 1999.
'Dandim Sikka, Manggarai, Alor and E. Flores transferred' (English translation), Pos Kupang, 11 April 2000.