Woman recalls murder of
family in Poso massacre


Ruslan Sangadji, The Jakarta Post, Poso

As authorities on Wednesday excavated a suspected mass grave containing victims of a 2000 massacre in Poso, Rusdiati Arifin cried out in anguish when police removed clothes she said belonged to one of her murdered children.

The clothes were discovered in the grave near Tambaro village in Lage district, Poso.

""These are the shirt and pants of my child. But where are my other children and my husband and my other relatives? Where were they buried. Why aren't their clothes here?"" she asked.

Rusdiati relived the horrible day of the massacre for journalists. It was May 28, 2000, when the electricity in the Muslim village was cut amid a heavy downpour.

Gunshots were heard from all directions and then the attackers, armed Christian militia members, began burning down the houses in the village. She said all of the houses were destroyed, including the Wali Songo Muslim boardinghouse.

All of the men, women and children from the village were gathered in a nearby field and their hands tied, Rusdiati recalled.

All of the sharp weapons in the village, including agricultural tools, were confiscated by the attackers, who wore headbands. The residents were then led to a river about two kilometers away.

""At the river we were separated. My husband, three children and five other relatives were killed. My youngest child, Yudi Arifin, who was in the third grade, was also killed. They were all killed in front of my eyes,"" she said, clutching and kissing the clothes pulled from the grave.

Police were led to the mass grave Wednesday based on information provided by three Christian men on death row for their roles in the religious violence in Poso -- Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva and Marinus Riwu.

Meanwhile, the Central Sulawesi High Court has isolated the three death-row convicts after the Supreme Court rejected their second appeal, an official said Thursday.

The execution by firing squad of the three men will be carried out soon, the head of the high court, Yahya Sibe, said. He added that relatives of the condemned were allowed to visit the men briefly before they were isolated.

""We are just settling the final technical details .... After that we will ask the police to execute the death sentences as soon as possible,"" he said.

After visiting with the condemned, all of the family members refused comment to journalists.

The three men were sentenced to death by the Palu District Court in 2001 for their roles in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims during the conflict in 2000.

Speaking Tuesday after the Supreme Court rejected the convicts' second appeal, lawyers for the three said the ruling was ""an insult to the people's sense of justice"", and promised to take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The justices hearing the appeal, Djoko Sarwoko, Marianna Sutadi, Timur P. Manurung, Arifin A. Tumpa and Paulus Effendi Lotulung, handed down a unanimous verdict after considering the case for less than a month.

Unless new evidence comes to light, the convicts have no further recourse for appeals and the decision when to execute them now rests with government prosecutors.

Their other avenue for appeal -- a plea for clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- was rejected late last year.

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