Subject: UN report a joke, says Timorese army rebel

Also RA: UN admits East Timor report creates a 'delicate' situation

UN report a joke, says Timorese army rebel

Lindsay Murdoch

October 19, 2006

THE rebel leader Alfredo Reinado has challenged the credibility of a United Nations inquiry into East Timor's violence, saying that one of the men recommended for prosecution was killed in a gun battle.

"How do they think they are going to prosecute a dead man? It's a joke," Reinado said from his hideout in East Timor's western mountains.

The three-member inquiry recommended that Reinado and at least nine of his men be prosecuted over a gun battle it says he started on Dili's outskirts on May 23, during which five people were killed and 10 wounded.

Reinado said that Alferes Joabinho Noronha, whom the inquiry said should be prosecuted, was killed in the fight.

He also said that other members of his group named by the inquiry as being possibly liable for prosecution were not with him at the time.

"I haven't read the report but from what I am hearing it's all very confusing," Reinado said. "All I know is that I am innocent … I was just protecting myself and my men from attack."

The inquiry set up by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, accused him of committing crimes against life and named him as a key culprit in the violence.

Reinado, who has been East Timor's most wanted fugitive since he led a mass escape from Dili's main jail in August, said his next move will depend on how the East Timorese people react to the inquiry's findings.

"I will listen to hear what the people are saying," he said. "What I did was to protect the majority of Timorese so it's up to them what happens to me."

The inquiry also recommends that scores of other Timorese soldiers, police and civilians be prosecuted, including the former guerilla fighter Vicente "Railos" da Conceicao, who is also on the run in mountains near Dili.

The report said it did not accept Conceicao's claim that the former prime minister Mari Alkatiri gave him instructions to "eliminate" political opponents. The claim forced Mr Alkatiri's resignation.

But it found there was "reasonable suspicion" that Mr Alkatiri knew that Conceicao's group had been given weapons illegally.

It found that Conceicao, a long-time ally of President Xanana Gusmao, and 31 of his men should be prosecuted over a gun battle on May 24 during which nine people were killed and three seriously wounded.

The 79-page report said that more than 300 police and army weapons, many of them high-powered assault rifles, were still missing.

Filomeno Aleixo, a senior member of Mr Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party, said the party was "carefully" reading the report which recommends further investigation to establish whether Mr Alkatiri should be prosecuted over the arming of civilians.

Mr Alkatiri, who remains the party's secretary-general, insists he will lead it into elections next year.

The streets of Dili have been calm since the report was released on Tuesday.

Soldiers appear to have accepted the inquiry's recommendation that the defence chief, Taur Matan Ruak, a hero of the country's independence struggle, be held accountable for the arming of civilians.

The Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, said yesterday he stood firmly behind Brigadier-General Ruak who had "expressed his acceptance of the report, which he regards as very fair and balanced".

Mr Ramos-Horta said the force's senior command had shown "zeal and discipline" throughout the crisis.

Mr Annan yesterday urged East Timorese to accept the report's recommendations.

East Timor's former bishop, Carlos Belo, who left the country in 2003 to work as a missionary in Mozambique, wept when he arrived back at Dili airport yesterday and saw thousands of people living in a nearby refugee camp. More than 60,000 people are still living in Dili camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

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Radio Australia

UN admits East Timor report creates a 'delicate' situation

18/10/2006 22:36:1

The United Nations says it is aware it has created a "delicate" situation by naming East Timor's former prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, in its report into the violence that hit the country in April and May.

The UN has called for a criminal investigation into whether Mr Alkatiri was responsible for weapons offences during the unrest which led to 37 deaths.

The UN's spokesman in Australia, Abdullah Mbamba, says he is concerned Mr Alkatiri still has many followers.

"There is so much division in the country on this particular issue and therefore it is very delicate situation to name Mr Alkitiri but at the same time I think the law has to take its course," he said.

Mr Alkatiri has dismissed the report's finding that he should have done more to prevent the unrest which erupted after the government sacked nearly 600 soldiers who had deserted their barracks.

Subsequent factional fighting within the security forces forced at least 150,000 people to flee their homes and more than 3,000 foreign peace-keepers were deployed to restore calm.

Mr Alkatiri resigned on June 26, saying he was doing so for the good of the country.

He says the UN is dreaming if it thinks he could have done anything more than he did.

"If you are really thinking that in two days time you could have in a time of crisis, could have time enough to set up a commission of inquiry or an auditing commissions... I tried to visit the places where the weapons were supposed to be, and I was informed that the weapons were not there," he said.

The UN report recommends the prosecution of dozens of people, including the former interior minister, Rogerio Lobato, and the rebel army leader, Alfredo Renaido.

Major Renaido is on the run after escaping from jail, but both the East Timorese and Australian governments admit authorities are in contact with him.

Mr Mbamba says it is only a matter of time before Major Renaido is brought to justice and he admits this also could spark further confrontation.

The UN report says President Xanana Gusmao should have shown more restraint and respect for institutional channels but no criminal charges are recommended against him.

PM welcomes report

East Timor's prime minister, Jose Ramos Horta, has welcomed the findings of the UN report.

Mr Ramos Horta has called for a positive response from the community to help stabilise a difficult situation and for those groups involved in violence to end it.

However, the president of the Social Democrat Party, Mario Carrascalao, says the recommendations do not meet the expectations of the Timorese people.

"It didn't go far enough... it's not enough to solve this crisis," he said.

"People were waiting for something that was clear, more clear than that."

Produced by Radio Australia and Australia Network


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