Australian prime minister says 200 troops to be withdrawn from East Timor The Associated Press Published: 26 April 2008
CANBERRA, Australia: Australia will withdraw 200 troops from nearby East Timor because security in the restive nation has improved since rebel soldiers wounded the president, Australia's prime minister said Saturday. The withdrawal Sunday will reduce Australia's troop commitment there to 750 — the same level as before East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot in February outside his home near the capital, Dili, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement.
"This drawdown in Australian forces reflects the improved security situation," Rudd said. Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, nearly died in the Feb. 11 attack by mutinous soldiers. East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped unharmed from an ambush of his motorcade the same day. Most of the suspects in both attacks have been captured. The president's guards killed rebel leader Alfredo Reinado. Rudd said the East Timorese government agreed with Australia's assessment that the security situation is now stable. With 750 troops, Australia will remain leader of a 900-strong international force that was invited by East Timor's government two years ago to restore order. Dozens of people have been killed in clashes between government troops and mutinous soldiers in Dili, and more than 150,000 others were forced to flee their homes.
Negotiations continue with E Timor rebel By Anne Barker Posted 26 Apr 2008 8:30pm AEST - Salsinha has promised authorities he will not leave the house until his rebel cohorts join him. Authorities in East Timor are continuing negotiations with a rebel leader involved in February's assassination attempt on President Jose Ramos-Horta. Renegade soldier Gastao Salsinha is inside a house in the western town of Gleno, with representatives of East Timor's army, prosecutor-general and political leaders - but he has not formally surrendered. Salsinha has promised he will not leave the house until about eight other rebels join him and United Nations authorities are hoping he will then hand over his weapons and surrender. But Salsinha has had similar talks before where he has offered to surrender, only to tell authorities he was going to get his rebel associates, then not come back. East Timorese soldiers have a strong presence in the area, but it is unclear whether they are preparing to take him by force if he does not surrender of his own will.
Indonesian police arrest another East Timor suspect - ABC 24/04/08 Indonesian police say they have arrested a fourth East Timor suspect believed linked to assassination attempts against the president and prime minister. Indonesia's Police Chief General Susanto announced the development saying the suspects all entered the country without documents, or passports. Earlier this week, Indonesian police arrested three other people, two in a border town in Indonesia's West Timor and another near Jakarta. General Sutanto says all four are currently being held in Jakarta. He says they are East Timorese citizens, and are all members of the East Timorese military. The arrests followed a request from the East Timor government.
UNMIT Daily Media Review 25 April 2008
Salsinha promises to submit himself within April – The Deputy Commander of the Joint Operation Command Mateus Fernandes said that Salsinha and his members have promised to submit themselves within this month even though the operation is still continuing. "He did not nominate an exact date, but he did promise that in short time he will submit himself to the church. That is what he said … we will see the reality, said Commander Fernandes on Wednesday (23/4) in Dili. (Diario Nacional)
Ed: Pardon for Rogerio Lobato – When President Ramos-Horta said that he would pardon prisoners on 20 May, including former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato, many people were surprised as Mr. Lobato was imprisoned for a short time before he went to Malaysia for medical treatment. We know that Mr. Lobato is a political leader who has political maturity, obeys the law and with humility accepted the decision of the court sentence. We may reject the decision of President Ramos-Horta, but the Constitution gives him the right to do so. As citizens of this country, we should bow our heads to the constitution made by our representatives in the National Parliament. (Diario Nacional)
Pardon for Rogerio: Horta attacks the Constitution - CNRT MP Aderito Hugo said that the decision made by the president to pardon Rogerio Lobato is an attack on Timor Leste's constitution. "The way that the President has handled this is an attempted attack on our constitution," said Aderito Hugo on Thursday (24/4) at the National Parliament. Mr Hugo added that the man imprisoned for his part in the weapons distribution of 2006, Rogerio Lobato, has not yet earned the right to be pardoned. Separately, National Director of Prison, Helena Gomes said that it is right for President Ramos Horta to pardon Rogerio Lobato as he had shown a good attitude and had collaborated with the justice system before receiving a medical treatment in Malaysia. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
President holds a meeting with AMP leaders – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão said that PR Ramos-Horta held a meeting with the leaders of AMP Government on Thursday (24/4) at the President's new office in Farol, Dili. The meeting aimed at informing the President on the strategies already implemented by the AMP government during his absence. President Ramos Horta also suggested the all political parties work to strengthen national unity. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
Carrascalao: it is normal to form a shadow cabinet – MP PSD Mario Viegas Carrascalão said that its normal if the President invites all former leaders to from a shadow cabinet in the manner of other countries. He added that a shadow cabinet has the right to provide constructive criticism to the Government. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
Prosecutor General Longuinhos goes to Indonesia to bring back captured rebels – Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro is today (25/4) going to Jakarta to bring back the three rebels arrested by the National Police of Indonesia (POLRI). Prosecutor Longuinhos said that the rebels will be brought back to Timor-Leste before the Prime Minister's visit to Indonesia. He also said that he would be accompanied by court police and the military. The rebels will be transferred from Jakarta to Bali, then to Timor-Leste. (Timor Post)
President Horta interrogated by Public Prosecutor for more than 4 hours – The Public Ministry has interrogated President Ramos-Horta as a victim of February 11 for more than four hours. Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro said that the interrogation was conducted well and helped clarify the investigation. "Everything went normally. He provided a chronology of events for February 11," said Mr. Longuinhos on Thursday (24/4). Mr. Longuinhos said that the case is very complex, so it needs cooperation from every part, including from Indonesia and Australia. (Televisão Timor-Leste)
Pardon for Rogerio may impact the judgment of 2006 crisis – The Director of HAK Association Jose Luis Oliveira said that the decision of President Ramos-Horta to pardon Rogerio Lobato will impact the process for the unresolved cases of the 2006 crisis. "Because some people have still not been investigated, if the President has decided to pardon Rogerio Lobato this indicates that other cases of 2006 crisis may be closed. The suspects will think this whether they are right or wrong,â€ said Mr. Oliveira. According to Mr. Oliveira, Rogerio Lobato should at least fulfil his sentence in the prison for half a year. He added that the decision of the President sets a bad example for society. (Timor Post)
Ed: all political parties should have dialogue – On Wednesday (23/4), President Ramos-Horta appealed to all political parties to have a dialogue for the sake of peace and stability in the country. It is clear that there should be a dialogue, especially between the AMP Government and the opposition party of Fretilin. We can all see that AMP is facing great challenges by Fretilin who won the2007 elections but lost the opportunity to rule the country. Fretilin used to claim that the AMP is illegal based on the results of the 2007 elections. At the same time, AMP used to say that they were legal based on the parliamentary chairs they had and the decision of President Horta to form the government. So who follows who? We need collaboration and reconciliation from the highest levels. We do not need early elections as proposed by Fretilin We are still questioning whether the dialogue is for collaboration and reconciliation or to decide on early elections (Timor Post)
Two killed in gang violence - DILI, April 24 (Reuters) - Two members of East Timor's rival martial arts gangs were killed on Thursday in another bout of violence that has beset the young, impoverished nation, police said. One of the victims was decapitated in a revenge attack that followed the killing of a rival gang member in the eastern district of Baucau, said local police detective chief Rogerio Gueterres. "We are searching for 10 perpetrators who have been identified," Gueterres said. The former Portuguese colony plunged into chaos in 2006 after the sacking of 600 rebellious soldiers triggered violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes. Foreign troops had to be brought in to restore order and security has improved, although sporadic violence, vandalism and arson persist, with an unemployment rate of around 50 per cent helping fan a gang culture among bored youths. Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1975. East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a violence-marred referendum in 1999. It became fully independent in 2002 after a period of U.N. administration. (Reporting by Tito Belo; Writing by Ahmad Pathoni; Editing by Sugita Katyal)
UNMIT Daily Media Review 24 April 2008
Ed: the State of Siege, only for Ermera district – How sad for those who are living in Ermera district. They have to endure the consequences of Salsinha's rebel group for one more month (22 April-22 May 2008) by living under a State of Siege, while other districts resume back to a normal state. Sometimes, the State just takes outrageous decision, but what can we do? They have all the power. The worst thing is that if Salsinha does not surrender in one month, then the people of Ermera will be living and dying under a State of Siege.
Why has the Joint Operation Command not taken any alternative action to arrest Salsinha? It is better not to implement a State of Siege just because of one Salsinha. To arrest Salsinha, the State may deploy all the army forces the country to arrest Salsinha. Why should Salsinha become the indicator for the State to prevent people's movement? This might be wrong. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
Indonesia does not give asylum to rebels – The Vice Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, José Luis Guterres has said that he does not believe Indonesia will grant political asylum to the rebels who were involved in the attempts against PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana Gusmão on February 11. "I think no, because Indonesia has arrested three people. This shows that we have a good neighbor who sees that peace and national stability are important for Timor-Leste," said Mr. Guterres on Wednesday (23/4).
Separately, the National Parliament said that the three people do not deserve to get political asylum as they are fugitives from justice. "They are criminals who flee and hide in Indonesia. They do not deserve to get political asylum. It depends on the Indonesian Government," said MP Vital dos Santos. According to the information between the Indonesian and Timor-Leste Government, Indonesia continues to cooperate with Timor-Leste as stated by Indonesian President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
PR Horta to pardon Rogerio; Fretilin's happy, MP sad – In a statement made to the National Parliament on Wednesday (23/4), President Ramos-Horta said on 20 May he will pardon 80 prisoners, including former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato who was imprisoned for his part in the weapons distribution of 2006. PR Horta said that the pardon he is going to give is based upon the prerogative rights he has and the recommendations from Ministry of Justice. "I went to Becora prison many times. On 20 May I will pardon 80 prisoners, including former Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato," said PR Horta on speech in the National Parliament. PR Horta said that the reasons for pardoning Rogerio Lobato were that Rogerio had shown a good attitude and had collaborated with the justice system. The President is also pardoning Lobato as he is the only one surviving member of his family- all who were killed defending the nation. (Timor Post)
PR Horta: asks Alkatiri to form his cabinet – PR Ramos-Horta has asked the Secretary-General of Fretilin Mari Alkatiri to form his cabinet to contribute to the development of the country. "I especially ask the former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, his companions and friends for many years to form a support cabinet of development to contribute to the development of the nation. If the suggestion is accepted, the former Prime Minister may present a clear proposal about the necessities of the cabinet," said the President during his long speech on Wednesday (23/4) in the National Parliament, Dili. Mr Alkatiri said he felt proud of the recognition of President Horta, but he still needs to discuss the details with the President. "I am glad the President still recognizes my ability and I am ready to contribute to the nation. I will talk with the President of how the cabinet is going to be formed," said Mr. Alkatiri. (Timor Post)
Ed: The State of Siege ended – The National Parliament has approved to extend the State of Siege for one more month (22 April-22 May 2008) in the district of Ermera. The State of Siege is extended upon the reason that there are still illegal weapons carried throughout the country, including 13 riffles of Salsinha and his group. This policy can be considered as discrimination to the people of Ermera as all people in the other districts are living freely. (Diario io Nacional)
President to pardon prisoners – President José Ramos-Horta has announced that 80 prisoners will receive pardons for good behavior on May 20, the anniversary of Independence, and has named Rogerio Lobato as one of them. "Some prisoners have received pardons from me, as recommended by the judicial justice system. I myself have visited and observed prisoners in Becora prison many times. So, at least 80 prisoners will receive pardons from me as the President on May 20, the anniversary of Independence and Lobato is one of them," said PR Ramos Horta on Wednesday (24/4) at the National Parliament. Separately, the president of Fretilin party, Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo said that his party will be happy if the President pardons Rogerio Lobato. However, PUN MP Fernanda Borges said that this is not the time to do so, as some rebels are still at large. (Diario Nacional)
Malaysia ready to train F-FDTL – The State Secretary for Defence Julio Thomas Pinto said that The Government of Malaysia, through its Defence Department, has agreed to give military training to the Defence Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL). "I have met the Vice Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Defence of Malaysia, Dato Sri Najib Tun Rajak. We discussed defences issues of the two nations and Malaysia is committed to help Timor-Leste in its military development. On behalf of the Government of Timor-Leste, I give my gratitude to the Government of Malaysia for sending its military forces to Timor-Leste during the 2006 crisis and for providing scholarships providing military training to F-FDTL …," said Mr. Pinto via telephone on Wednesday (23/4). (Televisaun Timor-Leste)
Lao Hamutuk: petroleum funds utilized ineffectively – The Program Manager of Lao Hamutuk Mericio Akara said that because the petroleum funds are not utilized effectively, they cannot give benefits to the people. Mr. Akara said that the fund should be managed in order to use the fund effectively. "Minimally, we could guarantee that this will benefit the population. As we see now that there is no sign that the people will benefit from the petroleum fund which is not currently well managed. Our preoccupation is whether to use the fund or not. Is the accountable? Have we the capability to manage the money? Will we be able to minimize collusion, corruption and nepotism or not? These are our preoccupations," said Mr. Akara. (Radio Timor-Leste)
UNMIT Daily Media Review 22 April 2008
PM to pay emergency visit to Ermera – Local authorities in Ermera are preparing today (22/4) to welcome Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão and the F-FDTL Commander Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak in their emergency visit to the district. The visit is aimed at meeting with local leaders, political leaders and the population of Ermera, including GastÃ£o Salsinha's wife. Security has been provided and prepared around the capital of Ermera, Gleno. (Radio Timor-Leste)
Bishop Ricardo: Salsinha should surrender – The Bishop of Dili Diocese, Mgr. Alberto Ricardo, has called on Gastão Salsinha and his men to surrender. "I pray for them and ask God to help them think positively and to do the right thing." said Bishop Ricardo on Sunday (20/4) after holding a ceremonial mass upon the return of President José Ramos-Horta. (Televizaun Timor-Leste)
PR Horta should clarify the involvement of Indonesia in Alfredo's case – Social Democratic Party (PSD) MP Mario Viegas Carrascalão is asking President José Ramos-Horta to provide a clarification to the Indonesian Government regarding his public statements that some Indonesian people were involved in Alfredo Reinado's case. According to Carrascalão, PR Horta should give this clarification in order to maintain good diplomatic relations between the two nations. "This should be explained as we are friends. The two nations have good relations after May 2002," said Mr. Carrascalão. On his return, PR Horta said that the Prosecutor General and Australian Federal Police had indicated the involvement of some Indonesian people involved in Alfredo's case. (Suara Timor Lorosa'e)
Indonesia arrests 19 rebels – The Foreign Affairs Minister of Timor-Leste, Dr Zacarias Da Costa, said that the Government has received information through the East Timor Embassy in Jakarta that the Indonesian National Republic Police (POLRI) have arrested 19 rebels who fled to Jakarta, Indonesia. "I know the previous information said that three of Alfredo's man were arrested. They are Ismael S.M Soares known as (Asanku), Jose Gomes and Ijidio Lay Carvalho. They all are former members of the F-FDTL. The latest information on Sunday (20/4) stated that, 19 other rebels were also arrested in Jakarta, Indonesia," said Mr Da Costa to the journalists on Monday (21/4) at Palacio do Governu, Dili. "Now we and the Prosecutor-General are working together with the Indonesian authorities to bring those rebels into East Timor in order to face justice," said the Foreign Affairs Minister. (Timor Post)
President postpones speech at National Parliament – The Chief of the President's Office, Natalia Carrascalao, said that the President postponed his speech at the National Parliament yesterday because his condition did not yet permit him to do so. "As we all aware, there were a lot of programs during his return and he has been visited by many people. So, the President decided to postpone his long speech at the National Parliament yesterday," said Ms Carrascalao. (Timor Post)
Alkatiri to forward proposal – The Secretary-General of Fretilin, Dr Marii Alkatiri, said that the Fretilin party will move forward with a proposal to establish an International Commission of Inquiry into the events of February 11 and is planning to discuss this with President Jose Ramos Horta. Alkatiri added that in order to ensure the independence of the inquiry, the countries currently involved in maintaining security in Timor Leste should not be involved in the inquiry. "We say that we should trust in our institutions, but the reality is that we do not trust each other yet. So we really need an international investigation," said Mr Alkatiri. (Timor Post)
MPs say no need to prolong Sate of Siege – MPs from CNRT, ASDT and Fretilin have said that there is no need to prolong the State of Siege as the current situation does not warrant an extension, even though Salsinha and his men are still at large. CNRT MP Pedro da Costa said that the State of Siege should not be prolonged because it is not suitable for the current country's situation, but added that it depends on the President whether he wants to continue or not. Fretilin MP Francisco Miranda Branco said that the State of Siege has shown a bad image for this government, so it does not need to be prolonged. But he added that the State of Siege can be applied at places where the rebels are though to be hiding rather than all through the country. ASD MP Jose Manuel Carrascalao said that the State of Siege has to be stopped given that there have been a lot of abuses committed by the forces during the implementation of the State of Siege. (Diario Nacional)
Government needs to address border security – CNRT MP Natalino Dos Santos has said that government need to address the Border Patrol Unit in order to strengthen border security. "I may say that our security at the border is still weak, so it has to be strengthened. Therefore, we have to find out what kind of difficulties are currently faced by our Border Patrol Unit (BPU) in order to provide them with the facilities to carry out their duties," said Mr Dos Santos on Monday (21/04) at the National Parliament. (Diario Nacional)
E Timor President Lifts State Of Emergency In Most Areas - 22/04/08 DILI (AFP)--East Timor lifted a state of emergency over most of the country on Tuesday but continued to enforce it in a district southwest of Dili where rebels are believed to be holding out, officials said.
The emergency restrictions were imposed in February after rebel former soldiers tried to assassinate President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. Both men survived but Ramos-Horta was seriously wounded. "I have received a recommendation from the prime minister to lift the state of emergency in the whole country, except in Ermera," Ramos-Horta said.
He said the state of emergency in Ermera, about 40 kilometres southwest of the capital, would remain for another month. Parliament later approved the move. Head of parliament Fernando de Araujo said the state of emergency in Ermera would remain until May 21.
The district is where followers of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado -- who critically shot Ramos-Horta at his Dili home on February 11 before being killed -- are believed to be hiding. Emergency restrictions include a night curfew and bans on gatherings and rallies.
Ramos-Horta returned home last week following two months of treatment in Australia. He also said Gusmao and military commander Taur Matan Ruak left for Ermera on Tuesday to check rumours that Gastao Salsinha -- the rebel most wanted over the attacks -- wanted to give himself up.
Compiled by Warren L. Wright BA LLB
East Timor Legal New now on East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin
East Timor legal news continues on in the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin. ETLJB covers the period from 2008 to the present. The archive and ETLB span almost a decade. It is by no means a comprehensive archive of legal news from East Timor but does cover many subjects and sources that have been of critical importance in the development of East Timor's legal culture since the catastrophic disintegration of the rule of law in 2006. Relates sources are East Timor Law Journal, East Timor Land Studies and United Nations Police in East Timor Security Reports for the period 2006-2008.