Indicted for crimes against humanity by the Serious Crimes Unit of the Dili District Court; also charged with crimes against humanity by the ad hoc Indonesian Tribunal for East Timor; convicted on 14 August 2002 and sentenced to 3 years in prison; acquitted on appeal by the Indonesian Supreme Court on 5 November 2004
Jose Abilio Osario Soares was born in Laclubar in East Timor on 2 June 1947. From the very beginning he was known to be a militant in favour of the attachment of East Timor to Indonesia. At the time of the civil war in particular, he was said to have collaborated with the Indonesian army with the aim of supporting the invasion of the region which took place at the end of 1975.After serving as mayor of Dili, he was appointed governor of East Timor at the end of 1992.He was still holding this position at the time of the criminal events for which charges were brought against him.
These accusations of criminal responsibility 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 Civilian Authorities in order to influence the outcome of the referendum and to upset adoption of the results of the referendum.
Jose Abilio Osario Soares was said to have played a central role in the spread of violence in East Timor during all of this period. He was accused of having taken an active part in the organisation of the pro-Indonesian militia which were implicated in these events notably by ensuring a large part of their finances. His direct responsibility was also called into question in certain specific events, in particular for the massacres committed in the church in Liquica on 6 April 1999, at the home of the Independence Leader Manuel Carrascalao on 17 April 1999, at the residence of the Bishop of Belo on 6 September 1999 and in the church in Suai on 6 September 1999.In each one of these instances, he was accused of not having exercised his authority in order to prevent these crimes from taking place.
On 22 February 2003, Jose Abilio Osario Soares, and seven other highly placed military and civilian individuals, were indicted by “The Serious Crimes Unit”, a body set up by the United Nations Transitional Administration of East Timor (UNTAET).