Subject: Taking the law into compassionate hands

Taking the law into compassionate hands

July 31, 2004 3:12pm Asia Intelligence Wire

ACT POLICING'S Detective Sergeant Mick Calatzis looks forward to the day, in four years' time, when he can watch close friend Sub-Inspector Jao Belo De Reis graduate.After all, it was Sergeant Calatzis, officer- in-charge at Belconnen Police Station, who made his East Timorese counterpart's dream of studying law at university come true.

Sergeant Calatzis met Inspector Belo De Reis during a recent stint in East Timor, where he was chief of strategic planning and deputy commander of the Australian Police contingent.

In a country still in the throes of establishing a democracy, the pair worked closely in setting up a national community policing program which covered 13 provinces.

'During the time I was in East Timor I spent a lot of time talking to Jao about ... his dreams for the future and policing there,' Sergeant Calatzis said. 'He was quite passionate about human rights, democratic processes and community policing and told me he had always wanted to study law.' But while Sergeant Calatzis had been able to fund his own part-time legal studies at the University of Canberra, his modestly-paid Timorese counterpart could not afford the luxury.

So, in a case of taking the law into his own hands, Sergeant Calatzis arranged through the ALOLA Foundation, a goodwill program set up by Kirsty Sword-Gusmao - the Australian wife of East Timor president Xanana Gusmao - for Inspector Belo De Reis to begin his legal studies in August at East Timor's leading university La Paz in the country's capital, Dili.

'When you come back from peacekeeping exercises, you often have a hollow feeling,' Sergeant Calatzis said. 'I guess this time around I wanted to do more.

Financing his friend's law course will cost about the same as one and a half units in an Australian university degree. Fellow AFP officers, Jamie Bellicanta and Rachel Hutka also recently raised $5690 for ALOLA by organising a fun run.

Copyright © 2004 The Federal Capital Press of Australia Pty Limited

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