Subject: Lusa: Alkatiri astonished at Lisbon honoring man blamed for civil war

East Timor: Alkatiri astonished at Lisbon honoring man blamed for civil war

Dili, Aug. 19 (Lusa) - East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, joining a controversy in Lisbon, criticized the Portuguese government Tuesday for having buried with military honors an officer Dili blames for having helped trigger its 1975 civil war.

Alkatiri, interviewed by Lusa, said he could "not understand" how Lisbon could bestow military honors on an officer who deserted the Portuguese army and "actively participated" in East Timor's civil war - to the point of having "initiated the holocaust" in the former Portuguese colony.

He also denied some Portuguese media reports that Lieutenant Colonel Maggiolo Gouveia had been executed in December 1975, days after Indonesia's invasion, on orders from the leadership of Alkatiri's Fretilin party.

The officer, whose remains were recently identified, exhumed and and flown to Portugal, was buried Monday with military honors near the central city of Santarem in the presence of Defense Minister Paulo Portas.

The opposition Socialist Party criticized Portas' gesture as right-wing "demagogy".

The party's shadow foreign minister, Ana Gomes, a former ambassador to Indonesia, blamed Lt. Col. Maggiolo Gouveia for having helped ignite the Timorese civil war, which served as Jakarta's pretext to invade and bloodily occupy the territory for 24 years.

The officer, who was serving as commander of East Timor's police in 1975, deserted the army in Dili and threw his lot with the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), which backed the continuation of links to Portugal against Fretilin's bid for immediate independence.

He was captured by Fretilin fighters and executed in still unclarified circumstances in Aileu, south of Dili.


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