By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Kupang, West Timor
Elly Pereira was a well known face around Dili in 1999. Short, stocky and muscular, dressed in trademark jeans, T-shirt and dark aviator-style sunglasses, he kept interesting company as a deputy chief of the Aitarak (Thorn) militia.
Mr Pereira is now a familiar face around West Timor's provincial capital, Kupang, where he seems to enjoy unusual privileges given that the Indonesian Government says his organisation no longer officially exists.
Still dressed the same, on Friday he was able freely to enter the Fatululi refugee transit centre outside Kupang, which is secured by 250 heavily armed police and soldiers. Once inside he appeared to be on familiar terms with senior Indonesian Army and police officials.
Officials from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) turned him away when he asked for a list of names of refugees who would be returning by ship to East Timor - but he still had the list a few hours later anyway.
On Friday afternoon Mr Pereira appeared at Kupang port to see off 498 East Timorese refugees. An Indonesian Foreign Ministry official who asked him to identify himself was surprised to learn that he worked as a provincial-level army intelligence officer attached to Korem 161. He gave his name as Eliziarou Dalus.
The information is alarming on two counts: it confirms that the militias and the Indonesian military intelligence apparatus are one and the same; it also goes some way towards explaining the difficulty for Jakarta in trying to disband the militias.
An IOM spokesman, Mr Chris Lom, said: "His [Pereira's] presence is significant. It means for international aid agencies [that] demanding security guarantees from the Indonesians is meaningless.
"It is simply unrealistic to expect security guarantees from the very people who are posing the threat in the first place."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and affiliated agencies stopped operations in West Timor in September after three international staff were murdered by pro-Indonesian militiamen in the border town of Atambua.
Mr Lom said the IOM now supported more "radical solutions" for the refugee repatriation issue, including deploying Indonesian security forces to close the camps one by one.
Last week in Jakarta the UN chief in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, sought support from the UNHCR and donors for tough new measures on refugee repatriation, including the use of security forces to close down the refugee camps.
6 UPI: Army key to Indonesia's power Analysis
"in East Timor in the late 1990s, TMI [Indonesian army] did not hesitate to equip and lead paramilitary forces that inflicted a reign of terror on a population seeking independence from Indonesia. ... When Habibie angered Wiranto and other army commanders by agreeing to a referendum over independence in east Timor, they retaliated by unleashing a wave of terror within East Timor." Martin Sieff, Senior News Analyst, United Press International