Questions are swirling in my head as I prepare to depart for Lospalos for the weekend. While there will be an inevitable dip in the water at Kom, the idea is to follow up on the Joni (Jhony) Marques story. It’s kind of personal, as I sat in on two weeks of his trial in 2001. First and foremost, where is he?
(For some reason the Joe Sacco comic “Christmas with Karadzic” sprang to mind as I was buying supplies for this trip. Sacco colorfully portrays his trip into Republica Srebska over the Christmas holidays to catch a glimpse of the hunted Karadzic. Unlike Marques, Karadzic was never caught and convicted of crimes against humanities.)
Another more sinister question is if whether Marques was amnestied somehow in reward for his “cooperation” with the Commission of Truth and Friendship. The CTF, while subject to light criticism by the President and Prime Minister, is also seen as an important part of the “big picture” – a long-term relationship with Indonesia.
His testimony, according to witnesses, was bizarre, offensive and defiant. He refuses to shed any light on command structures, protecting his Indonesian bosses. (Perhaps they would also like to pay him back?) This leads me to wonder, is he even in Timor Leste? Did he hop the first boat to Flores, where ex-Battalion 745 members are headquartered? Will he receive some Indonesian pension, or be given a job as a civil servant there?
If Marques was released last week, was Lautem given any warning? What are victims thinking and feeling right now?
One thing that is important to remember is that many of the militia leaders in the West were in fact from liurai families and have been able to return and reassert some influence in their communities. They were not attacked. Marques, on the other hand, from what I understand, is no blue blood.
If he is in Lautem, I am hakfodak.