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The Public Prosecutor v. Marcurious José de Deus

Court Special Panels for Serious Crimes (District Court of Dili), East Timor
Case number 13/2001
Decision title Sentencing Judgement
Decision date 18 April 2002
  • The Public Prosecutor
  • Marcurious José de Deus alias Marcurious Malik/Marley
Categories Human rights violations
Keywords Murder
Other countries involved
  • Indonesia
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Indonesia illegally occupied East Timor from 1975 until 2002. During this period, members of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) together with local militia groups perpetrated a number of crimes against the Timorese population, especially independence supporters.

The Accused, Marcurious José de Deus, was a member of the pro-autonomy Laksaur militia group. In 1999, he and other militia members were ordered by their superiors to murder a woman who had openly revolted against the militia after its members had killed her son. De Deus, just 22 years old at the time, carried out the orders by repeatedly stabbing the mother as she grieved over the corpse of her son with a kitchen knife. He was convicted of murder contrary to the Indonesian Penal Code by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes. The offence, which usually carries with it a punishment of 20 years’ imprisonment, was reduced in the case of de Deus to 5 years’ imprisonment. The Special Panels took into consideration his young age, the climate of violence which existed in East Timor at the time, that the Accused was acting on orders and that he pleaded guilty to the offence and expressed genuine remorse.

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Procedural history

On 10 May 2001, the Public Prosecutor indicted the Accused, Marcurious José de Deus for murder as a domestic offence, contrary to section 8 of UNTAET Regulation 2000/15 and Article 340 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

The trial commenced on 11 March 2002 on which date the Accused pleaded guilty to the charge of murder. 

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Legally relevant facts

The Accused was a member of the Laksaur militia group (para III.1.1). He participated in militia activities by aid of a kitchen knife of approximately 15 centimetres in length (para. III.I.4).

In early September 1999, Laksaur militia members (not including the Accused) murdered a man (para. III.I.6). His mother, upon learning of the death of her son, openly revolted against the militia (para. III.1.9). The Accused, together with other militia members, was ordered to kill the mother (para. III.I.9). They approached her home and found her instead crying over the corpse of her son. The Accused stabbed her in the chest with his knife and then for a second time on the right side of her body and for a third time on the left side of her body (paras. III.I.12-14). Her throat was then slashed by another militia member (para. III.I.15). She died as a result of her wounds (para. III.I.16).

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Core legal questions

  • What circumstances may be taken into account by the Court at sentencing?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Sections 8 and 21 of UNTAET Regulation 2000/15.
  • Article 340 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Accused was convicted of murder with premeditation, an offense contrary to Article 340 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

At sentencing, the Court shall take into consideration the fault of the accused as a base for the application of any sanction. In addition, that the Accused was acting pursuant to orders is a mitigating circumstance pursuant to Section 21 of UNTAET Regulation 2000/15. Finally, the Accused’s admission of guilt, his young age at the time of the murder (22 years old), the particular climate of violence that existed in East Timor in 1999 are also to be taken into account (para. V.2).

The Court sentenced the Accused to 5 years’ imprisonment (para. V.2).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited