Subject: AKI: Fugitive Major Will Go To Jail, Says Justice Minister


Dili, 19 Jan. (AKI) - East Timor's minister of justice, Domingos Sarmento, has brushed off rumours of a possible 'peaceful deal' to end the saga of renegade Major Alfredo Alves Reinado, who led an uprising and is wanted by the authorities in connection with murder charges but lives peacefully in the district of Ermera, surrounded by a group of armed associates. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI) Sarmento said that Major Reinado, and the other 55 inmates who escaped from Dili's Becora prison, are fugitives that must be arrested and jailed.

Major Reinado is a fugitive and the government considers him a criminal and will bring him to justice," Sarmento told Adnkronos International on Friday. "If he is a gentleman, I appeal for him to surrender and face justice. If not, he will be captured one day. There is no mercy for him and the other inmates who escaped from prison," he added.

Sarmento's outburst follows weeks of semi-clandestine meetings that have seen Major Reinado talking with government representatives and members of the United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor [UNMIT] on ways to solve the standoff peacefully.

Reached on the phone by AKI, Major Reinado rejected Justice Minister Sarmento's conclusions and advised him to brush his knowledge of the law.

It is better if he [Minister of Justice Domingos Sarmento] studies more about the law. His statement shows that he is not well educated. There has not been a tribunal decision on my case, so I cannot be considered a criminal," he said from his hideout, on Friday. "As I have said repeatedly: I am innocent as long as the tribunal does not say otherwise. I have not been found guilty of murdering any one," he added.

Major Reinado abandoned the army on 4 May 2006 to join approximately 600 former soldiers who had been dismissed two months before, after complaining of ethnic discrimination over promotions. He was then arrested for his role in the violence that ensued and accused in conjunction of the murder of five people. He escaped from prison on 30 August, 2006.

Major Reinado has stated several times that he will one day face justice for his part in the violence which has rocked the tiny Southeast Asian country since May. However, he has also stated that he does not want to be a "scapegoat" or considered the "only guilty party."


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