|Subject: RT: E.Timor ex-PM should face
probe, UN says
Also AU: Gusmao accused over Dili violence
Timor ex-PM should face probe, UN says
17 Oct 2006 12:36:00 GMT
(Adds Gusmao quote, political details paragraphs 7-8; government worker quote paragraph 18)
By Lirio da Fonseca
DILI, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Further investigation is needed to determine whether former East Timor prime minister Mari Alkatiri should be prosecuted over the arming of civilians during a wave of violence in May, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.
The report, prepared by a U.N.-appointed Independent Special Commission of Inquiry, said it found no evidence to recommend Alkatiri, who resigned under pressure in June, be prosecuted over illegal transfer of weapons from security forces to civilians.
"Nevertheless, there is information before the Commission giving rise to suspicion that he knew about the illegal arming of civilians," said the report, issued on a U.N. Web site (www.ohchr.org).
Alkatiri, who heads the dominant Fretilin party in parliament, has been widely blamed for the violence which erupted after fighting within the armed forces spiralled into rioting, arson and looting in the streets of the capital, Dili.
During the chaos, more than 30 people were killed and more than 150,000 displaced from their homes.
Australia in late May led a force of over 3,000 foreign peacekeepers to end the fighting, which pitted ethnic gangs and East Timor's fledgling police and military against one another.
President Xanana Gusmao told reporters: "The parliament must quickly take political and legislative or legal actions based on the materials in the commission's report."
Whether parliament will quickly heed that call remains to be seen. Alkatiri's Fretilin has nearly two-thirds of the seats in the 88-member body, as well as a number of cabinet posts.
Gusmao also called for an end to the sporadic unrest that has continued in the tiny country half the size of Belgium.
"We ask all groups which are still involved in violence to stop their actions. We should not live in this situation forever," he told reporters.
The 79-page report made a number of recommendations for pursuing criminal cases related to the violence including prosecuting former interior minister Rogerio Lobato over the illegal arming of civilians, and rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, who escaped from a Dili prison in August.
It named a string of security forces members, rebel soldiers and civilians who should be prosecuted or investigated over some of the killings that occured.
A summary of the report also blamed the weakness of institutions for the chaos in East Timor.
The territory of around a million people voted in a bloody 1999 referendum for independence from Indonesia, which annexed East Timor after colonial masters Portugual withdrew in 1975.
"It is the view of the Commission that the crisis which occurred in Timor-Leste can be explained largely by the frailty of state institutions and the weakness of the rule of law."
East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who replaced Alkatiri, last week played down the chance of violence after the release of the U.N. report, but urged foreign forces to stay until 2007 elections.
Security was tight in the capital ahead of the release of the report, with government offices closing early.
"We were scared and in panic because the rumour ahead of the delivery of the report was there would be more violence if the result of the investigation was unsatisfactory," government worker Lucia Dorosario, who left her office two hours early, told Reuters.
However, there were no immediate reports of unrest after the document appeared.
Malaysian police guarded parliament and Bangladeshi troops carrying rifles were stationed outside judiciary offices.
After a strong vote for breaking with Jakarta, East Timor was run by the United Nations for two-and-a-half years before becoming independent in 2002.
Giving jobs to some 600 military rebels whose dismissal triggered this year's violence is crucial to resolving the East Timor crisis, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report last week.
The ICG also said the charismatic Gusmao and politically powerful Alkatiri may need to consider skipping any role in 2007 elections to resolve the political impasse and allow new leaders to emerge.
Gusmao accused over Dili violence
Mark Dodd October 18, 2006
A UN inquiry into the causes of deadly violence in East Timor earlier this year has accused President Xanana Gusmao of inflaming tensions which brought the country to the brink of civil war.
The long-awaited UN report has also recommended former prime minister Mari Alkatiri face a criminal investigation over alleged weapons offences.
It found that Dr Alkatiri was aware of allegations of illegal weapons distribution by his interior minister but failed to use his authority to act against the transfer to armed loyalist civilian militia.
"The prime minister failed to use his firm authority to denounce the transfer of weapons to civilians," the report found.
"No further steps were taken by him to address the issue."
It also recommended further investigation to determine whether Dr Alkatiri "bears any criminal responsibility with respect to weapons offences".
The report, released yesterday, also directly implicates a former interior and defence minister and the country's army and police commanders over the illegal distribution of weapons and arming of civilians.
The 80-page report into the violence, which erupted in April and May, was compiled by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It accused Mr Gusmao of making unnecessarily provocative public speeches that inflamed an already volatile political environment.
"The commission considers that the President should have shown more restraint and respect for institutional channels by exhausting available mechanisms, such as the Superior Council for Defence and Security, before making a public address to the nation," the report said.
"Similarly, the commission notes that by intervening personally with Major (Alfredo) Reinado, the President did not consult and co-operate with the F-FDTL (army) command, thereby increasing tension between the Office of the President and F-FDTL."
Major Reinado remains at large after breaking out of Dili's Becora jail with 56 other inmates on August 30.
The UN report said much of the violence could be attributed to the weakness of the rule of law in the country.
"While recognising that Timor Leste (East Timor) is a fledgling democracy with developing institutions, it is the view of the commission that the crisis which occurred in Timor Leste can be explained largely by the frailty of state institutions and the weakness of rule of law," the report found.
The commission said the Alkatiri government failed to follow legislative procedures in calling out the army to deal with unrest caused by scores of army deserters angered by ethnic divisions within the defence force.
A protest rally in Dili on April 28 to support 600 dismissed soldiers turned into mob violence that left five dead and more than 20,000 people displaced. Ethnic gang violence confined to the capital Dili continued and the death toll climbed to more than 25 by the time an Australian-led peacekeeping force arrived in late May to restore law and order.
The report blamed F-FDTL commander Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak for failing to prevent a confrontation between the army and police that led to the fatal shooting by soldiers of nine unarmed police officers on May 25. It found that army and police weapons were illegally distributed to civilians.
Alkatiri declined immediate comment, but President Gusmao and Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta issued a statement appealing to parties "not to take advantage of the substance of the report".
They called for "maturity and reasoning ... with the firm objective of calming the animosities of the people".
An emergency cabinet meeting will be convened to consider the commission's conclusions.