The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Soeharto’s Man Suspected
By Lindsay Murdoch and Tom Hyland
ONE of East Timor’s most influential politicians has called for the inquiry into the recent attacks on the nation’s leaders to be widened to include the possible role of a notorious Jakarta gangster.
The gangster is Hercules Rozario Marcal, but in Indonesia where he lives, and East Timor the birthplace he wants to return to, he’s always referred to as just Hercules – “the king of the gangsters”.
Hercules had close links with Soeharto-era generals – including an officer charged by the United Nations with orchestrating the destruction of East Timor after the 1999 independence ballot.
Hercules visited Dili with a high-powered Indonesian business delegation three weeks before the attempted assassination of President Jose Ramos-Horta and the attempted abduction of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
During the January 21 visit, he met both leaders and other senior officials and said he was looking at investment opportunities.
Mario Carrascalao, part of East Timor’s ruling alliance, said he “knew something bad was about to happen” when Hercules visited Dili.
Hercules gained notoriety in Jakarta in the 1990s as a gangster involved in protection rackets, extortion, gambling and prostitution.
He and his gang also served as enforcers for the Soeharto regime, intimidating political dissidents and East Timorese independence activists.
Mr Carrascalao, governor during the Indonesian occupation, is president of the Social Democratic Party, one of four parties in the current coalition headed by Mr Gusmao.
His suspicions about Hercules are also shared by other senior politicians and international agencies in East Timor.
He said he had heard that while Hercules was in Dili he met the army rebel Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead during the February 11 attack on President Ramos-Horta. But he said he had no proof.
“No matter what Hercules was doing in East Timor, he should be part of the commission of inquiry,” Mr Carrascalao said.
Dr Ian Wilson of Perth’s Murdoch University, who is about to publish a book on the gangs, has interviewed Hercules.
“Any serious business initiative wouldn’t want anything to do with him, in Indonesia certainly,” Dr Wilson said. “His reputation is huge and it’s not a good one.”