On August 30, 2009, East Timor's Prime Minister, the former resistance leader Xanana Gusmão, quietly authorized the release of a man directly implicated in one of the country's most notorious massacres. Maternus Bere, a commander of the pro-Indonesian Laksaur militia group, had been indicted for his role in the September 1999 killing of as many as 200 unarmed supporters of independence who had taken refuge in the Catholic Church in Suai. Of the 40 victims whose identities could be determined, three were priests, ten were under the age of 18, and more than a dozen were women. The Suai Church massacre was part of a shocking campaign of violence that followed a United Nations-organized referendum in which Timorese had voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

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