The Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) was established by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) following UN SecurityCouncil Resolution 1272 (1999). As mandated by the United Nations Security Council, the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) is responsible for conducting investigations and preparing indictments to bring to justice those responsible for Crimes against Humanity and other serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. The mandate of the SCU will end in May 2005 and, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1543 and 1573, the SCU completed all investigations as of 30 November 2004. Therefore, no more indictments will be filed. The SCU has now 9 cases pending in the Special Panels for Serious Crimes and has started its handover procedures.
Since the independence of Timor Leste independence on 20 May 2002, the SCU has worked under the legal authority of the Prosecutor-General of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (RDTL. Dr. Longuinhos Monteiro is currently the Prosecutor-General. The Office of the Prosecutor-General is divided into two sections: Ordinary Crimes and the Serious Crimes Unit.
The Serious Crimes Unit is headed by the Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes who reports functionally to the Prosecutor-General and is responsible for managing the investigations and prosecutions of the SCU. The Deputy General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes is Mr. Carl de Faria who arrived at SCU on 4 February 2005.
The SCU currently has 74 staff members including 34 UN International civilian staff including prosecutors, investigators, forensic specialists and translators as well as 6 UN Police technical assistants and 34 UN national staff including translators and mortuary staff. In addition, 12 East Timorese trainee staff work with SCU including prosecutors, ITU and evidence management staff funded by bilateral funds from the Norwegian Government. A total of 19 East Timorese Police (PNTL) investigators are currently undergoing practical training in SCU with UN investigators and UN Police trainers and 2 PNTL officers working in the SCU witness management team.
The SCU is divided into 4 Regional teams comprised of UN prosecutors, legal officers, investigators and trainee staff with separate forensic investigation, evidence management and witness support teams. The Regional Investigation and Prosecution teams cover all 13 districts of East Timor. Due to the end of the investigations, the Regional investigation offices of Maliana, Manufahi and Oecussi were closed. The SCU maintains one investigation team in Dili.