Subject: LUSA: Alleged gunmen released by Dili Court

06-03-2003 19:21:00. Notícia nº SIR-4751497

East Timor: Alleged gunmen released by Dili Court

Dili, March 6 (Lusa) - Four men who allegedly carried out a deadly vehicle ambush last week were released Thursday by the Dili Court, a decision described by a source in the UN peacekeeping force in the country as "incomprehensible".

The alleged gunmen were detained in search operations undertaken by peacekeepers after an armed attack on a mini- van in the Atabe district, southwest of Dili, on Feb. 24. One man was killed in the ambush and a second died of his injuries.

A 300-strong peacekeeping force was sent into the area and tracked the alleged attackers, killing one in a firefight. Four men were detained by the troops and later handed over to police.

However, the men were released, despite a request for their preventive detention by the attorney general's office, and told to report weekly to a local police station.

A UN source told Lusa that the four were originally from Ermera, south of Dili, but have lived in West Timor for several years and it was highly probable they would return to Indonesia.

A judicial source in Dili told Lusa that the paperwork in the investigations against the group had "major defects".

A UN source said "all the evidence was handed over" and that the UN "respects the independence of Timorese courts".

ASP/CJB Lusa

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