Subject: SBS VIDEO: Viqueque shooting

Police are failing us: Horta 6.6.2007. 07:36:20

East Timor's president Jose Ramos Horta says people have lost faith in the police force following a fatal shooting at a political rally, an incident that has been captured on film obtained by SBS.

The man was shot in Viqueque, a Fretilin-stronghold southeast of Dili, during a rally for the National Congress for Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT), the new party headed by former president Xanana Gusmao.

It was not clear whether the man who was shot was a CNRT supporter or a security guard at the rally.

<>RAW VIDEO: Viqueque shooting

Reports emerged that the shooter was an off-duty policeman and Fretilin supporter.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon near Viqueque market.

UN Police fired warning shots and tear gas after fighting broke out between CNRT supporters and opponents following a CNRT rally.

One man, Alfonso "Kuda Lay" Guterres, died after he was allegedly shot by an off-duty Timorese police officer.

Another CNRT supporter, 24, was shot dead and a 16-year-old youth injured shortly later, as a group of CNRT supporters, accompanied by the former president, attempted to return the dead man's body to Ossu.

"Initial reports indicate that PNTL (East Timor police) fired shots to control a crowd at a roadblock near Ossu," the acting head of the UN's mission in East Timor, Eric Tan said.

United Nations personnel stepped up security in Viqueque amid rising tensions after the deaths of the two men.

The Australian-led international stabilisation force has deployed a platoon to the region.

'Discipline lax'

President Ramos Horta said the deaths have embarrassed East Timor and said those responsible for the shootings should receive "severe punishment".

He says the nation's police force still suffers from a lack of discipline.

Mr Ramos Horta, who was due to fly to Jakarta this afternoon for his first official visit as president, said the police entrusted to safeguard the elections had failed in their duty.

"Several members of the PNTL have engaged in crime ... We see that indiscipline is still very strong within the PNTL," he said.

He warned: "There is no impunity in this country".

Reform of East Timor's security sector is considered key to the country's future, after clashes between elements of the police and defence forces sparked last year's crisis, resulting in 37 deaths.

'Sad day for democracy'

Former president Xanana Gusmao, meanwhile, declared it a "sad day" for democracy in East Timor.

The CNRT party is likely to pose a major challenge to East Timor's ruling Fretilin party in the June 30 poll, and Mr Gusmao will become Prime Minister if it wins.

Yesterday he joined other leaders in calling for peace, warning that those responsible didn't want a peaceful election process.

"I again call on all people of our young nation to give up violence. With violence we only hurt ourselves, our country, and those that we love."

Search for shooter

Meanwhile, the UN's Mr Tan said police were still searching for the off-duty police officer believed responsible for Mr Guterres' death and the motive was unknown.

"We are treating both shootings seriously," he said.

"Neither incident suggests an attempt on Mr Gusmaos life."

Mr Tan said East Timor's leaders had met and urged political supporters to remain calm ahead of the June 30 poll.

Fretilin condemned the violence and called for a full investigation, saying the dead man had been armed, although this has been denied by other witnesses.

"There also needs to be an inquiry to explain why a campaign member of a political party was armed with a gun and to determine the person that provided him with that weapon," Fretilin secretary general Mari Alkatiri said.

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