Subject: DN: Timor may lose patrol boats given by Portugal

Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

November 19, 2004, Friday

Timor may lose patrol boats given by Portugal

SOURCE: Diario de Noticias web site, Lisbon, in Portuguese 19 Nov 04

Text of report by Eduardo Mascarenhas: "Portuguese money useless' in East Timor" by Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias web site on 19 November

The government of East Timor has not spent on its navy (FDTL) a single cent of the 2.9m euros Portugal handed over in 2002 for that purpose. Today, the two patrol launches Portugal gave East Timor on 12 January 2002 run the risk of sinking due to a lack of maintenance and the damage caused by an earthquake on 12 November.

The boats are moored in Hera, seven km from Dili. The Oecussi, which has not been in service for several months because it lacks motors, was hit by the Atauro, the only one still sea-worthy, after the latter was hit by a dredger which lost its moorings due to the sudden strong tide caused by the earthquake. As a result of the collision with the dredger, the Atauro has a hole on the right-hand side of the stern.

In an interview with Lusa Portuguese news agency , the FDTL commander, Gen Taur Matan Ruak, said that with regard to the two launches, there are only two options: "Either we are able to keep the launches or they will end up on the bottom of the sea," he concluded.

The situation is causing unease in the Timorese military which does not understand the reason why - while the funds exist to guarantee, among other things, the maintenance of the two boats - they remain moored.

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