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The Prosecutor v. Carlos Soares Carmona

Court Special Panels for Serious Crimes (District Court of Dili), East Timor
Case number 03/2000
Decision title Judgement
Decision date 25 April 2001
  • The Public Prosecutor
  • Carlos Soares Carmona
Categories Human rights violations
Keywords Murder
Other countries involved
  • Indonesia
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Unlike the politically motivated crimes that are usually dealt with by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes as a result of Indonesia’s illegal occupation of East Timor from 1975 until 2002, the present case holds no links to these events. A father who suspected his daughter’s illness to be the result of black magic ordered the Accused, Carlos Soares Carmona, and others, to find the man responsible and bring him to his home. The man is brought back and, by placing saliva on the girl’s forehead, wakes her from a state of unconsciousness. The man is tied to a chair, questioned and beaten by the Accused on the orders of the father. He confesses to practising black magic, particularly against children, but resolves never to do so again. A reconciliation occurs and two bottles of a local alcoholic drink are consumed. After everyone departs the home, the Accused returns to find the man alone and proceeds to stab him in the chest. He dies as a result of his wounds. The Accused is convicted by the Special Panels for murder and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. His defence of intoxication is dismissed absent evidence to the contrary. 

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Procedural history

On 23 November 2000, the Public Prosecutor indicted the Accused, Carlos Soares Carmona, for a charge of murder as a domestic offense contrary to section 8 of UNTAET Regulation 2000/15 and Article 340 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

The preliminary hearing commenced on 18 January 2001 at which time the Accused entered a statement to the effect that he had not read the indictment nor understood the charges against him. The hearing was then postponed by the Court until 30 January 2001.

On 30 January 2001, the Accused again made a statement, however, the Special Panel was of the opinion that it did not amount to a guilty plea as the Accused did not agree totally with the charges.

The trial was held on 13 February 2001.

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Related developments

On 2 August 2001, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence of the Accused from 11 to 8 years’ imprisonment. 

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Legally relevant facts

On or about 28 May 1999, the Accused and two other individuals were ordered by Nicolau Araujo to arrest the victim, Constantino Mauloe, and bring him to the home of Araujo. Araujo suspected that the victim had made his daughter ill by means of black magic (p. 3).

Upon arrival at Araujo’s home, the victim placed some saliva on the sick daughter and she awoke from her state of unconsciousness. Araujo ordered the victim to get some magic potion to be used in his home; the victim, following orders, collected three parcels of tree root and bark and brought it with him to Araujo’s home. The victim was then tied up by the Accused and one of his companions (p. 3). After he confessed his black magic actions as a result of questioning and some beatings, and promised to quit, he was forgiven by Araujo and those present, with the exception of the Accused. After everybody had walked away from Araujo’s home, the Accused returned and proceeded to stab the victimin the chest, who died as a result of his wounds (p. 5). 

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Core legal questions

  • Does the Accused’s membership in a pro-autonomy militia group suffice to establish a link between the murder and the abuses perpetrated against the civilian population of East Timor in 1999?
  • If proven, would the Defence’s contention that the Accused was highly intoxicated at the time excuse his criminal responsibility?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Sections 8 and 19.1(b) of UNTAET Regulation 2000/15.
  • Articles 48 and 340 of the Indonesian Penal Code.

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Court's holding and analysis

In the opinion of the Court, neither the Accused’s membership in a militia group nor his companion’s membership in a pro-independence group suffice to establish a link between the murder and the attacks against the Timorese civilian population in 1999. The victim, Constantino Mauloe, was arrested for the purposes of being interrogated regarding his black magic powers. Indeed, the victim confessed his black magic actions after being questioned (p. 5).

Pursuant to Section 19.1(b) of UNTAET Regulation 2000.15, intoxication precludes criminal responsibility only where, at the time of conduct, the perpetrator’s capacity to appreciate the unlawfulness of nature of his conduct or his capacity to control his conduct to conform to the law is destroyed. Voluntary intoxication where the perpetrator knew, or disregarded the risk that, as a result of the intoxication, he was likely to engage in criminal conduct is no defence. In the present instance, the Special Panel concluded that none of the aforementioned circumstances were applicable to the Accused’s conduct (p. 7).  Only two bottles of an alcoholic drink had been drunk, and they had been shared amongst several people.  That the Accused left and then returned to kill the victim displays a normal amount of control (p. 8).

The Special Panel convicted the Accused of murder and sentenced him to 11 years’ imprisonment (p. 9).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials