Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Kept in a heated room in blacked-out ski goggles, man says he fabricated his confession in front of Australian interrogators

An Australian intelligence officer ordered interrogators to extract a videotaped confession from a Timorian man after he was allegedly tortured at a secret interrogation center in East Timor in 1999.

Australian soldiers believed the man was an Indonesian Special Forces soldier linked to militia violence.

However, Bartolomeus Ulu has told Four Corners that he falsely confessed, under pressure, to being a Kopasas special forces operative after several days of abuse in Australian custody.

He was among 14 Timorians who were interrogated over three-and-a-half days at a secret, Australian-run facility at the heliport in Dili.

A Military Police special investigation later recommended that torture charges be brought against the facility’s three Australian commanders.

Four Corners has been told that legal advice held that the evidence supported the allegation. However, it said that it was not appropriate to prosecute the commanders of the interrogation center as they were following their training.

The Secret Inquiry Center was located at the heliport in Delhi.,Four Corners: Kyle Taylor,

A heated isolation room and blacked-out ski goggles

Documents seen by Four Corners show that intelligence officers continued to interrogate Mr Ulu after the group was taken from the heliport interrogation facility to an official detention center run by military police.

An Australian military policeman told investigators he was upset by how Mr Ulu was treated, leading to a rift between military police and intelligence officers interrogating the detainees.

Military police guards said Mr Ulu was kept in an isolated room with covered windows, deprived of sleep and forced to wear blacked-out ski goggles and ordered to bang ration tins.

“I remember it was very hot in the isolation room, the windows were covered,” said a military police officer.

A guard said Mr Ulu was given sips of water at regular intervals but only food as a reward.

“I want to point out that these incidents disturbed me,” the MP told investigators.

At one point while Mr. Ulu was in the detention centre, intelligence officers told military police guards to keep him awake by banging a tin of rations.

“We didn’t do it because we didn’t believe it was a military police act,” a military police guard told investigators.

“He was given food and water and allowed to sleep. [Intelligence] Came to know about it the next day and it bothered him.”

One intelligence officer was furious that the guards had ignored his instructions on how the captive should be treated.

The intelligence officer told investigators, “This man was allowed to sleep for 10 to 12 hours, and then we had to wait another – I think it was another 70 hours … we had to put him down again.”

“Actually, I thought [the military police guards] ***** Should have been charged and sent home.”

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play video.  Duration: 47 minutes 28 seconds

Ghosts of Timor (Part Two).

Order to take confession on tape

About 12 days after Mr Ulu was captured, an order came from an intelligence officer asking interrogators to film him in secret while confessing to being a member of the Kopasas (Indonesian Special Forces) on a mission in East Timor. .

A memo from a senior Australian intelligence officer, seen by Four Corners, ordered interrogators to set up “debrief” sessions to allow “secret taping/recording to be ensured”. [the detainee’s] Face in plain view. The memo ordered that, if an American interrogator is used, their uniform should not be visible.

The Chief American Interrogator in East Timor, assisting the International Force for East Timor (Interfate), told the Four Corners of the Australian Army, then asked his superiors in the United States Pacific Command whether the video was publicly available for broadcast on television. can be issued.

The interrogator, who asked not to be named, said the Australian military wanted the video to be “used politically to reinforce the Australian position that Indonesia was actively interfering in the transition to East Timor”.

“They asked permission to use it on TV,” he said. “They asked the American people for permission and the American people said, ‘Absolutely not.

Publicly releasing images of prisoners may be a violation of the Geneva Convention, which states that prisoners must be protected from “public curiosity”.

While the ADF was not bound by the Geneva Conventions in East Timor, it was publicly committed to those standards.

Nation World News Desk
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