Subject: ABC: I don't want to shoot Australians, E Timor rebel leader says


ABC News Online

Last Update: Tuesday, March 13, 2007. 6:27pm (AEDT)

I don't want to shoot Australians, E Timor rebel leader says

The most wanted man in East Timor says he has no intention of harming any Australians, even though five of his supporters were killed in an Australian military raid on his hide-out almost two weeks ago.

Major Alfredo Reinado has been on the run since escaping from prison after taking up arms against the government of East Timor in a violent upheaval last year.

He has told a crew from ABC's <>Foreign Correspondent program, which found him after a two-day trek, that he has no intention of giving himself up to Australian special forces.

"Me, I don't never have a word of surrendering," he said.

"I'll surrender to justice, not to anybody, not to any command or any force.

"I never want to shoot any Australian."

When questioned why he previously fired shots at them, Major Reinado responded, "I defend myself because they are firing at us first."

Major Reinado says he does not want to kill in retaliation.

"The Government was responsible, I don't believe people of Australia order[ed] this and if people of Australia [lost] a loved one, you asked your Government who order[ed] this," he said.

"We never want to harm anyone, but we have a right to protect ourselves."



Dili, 13 March (AKI) - East Timor's renegade major Alfredo Alves Reinado is heading to Dili for talks with the government brokered by the Catholic Church. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), the rebel soldier said he is in good health and that he was not injured during the Australian-led raid against him that killed five on 4 March. "I am wearing an Australian uniform and I am heading towards the capital (Dili) for talks facilitated by the Catholic Church. I am very close to Dili," Major Reinado told AKI via the telephone from an undisclosed location on Tuesday.

"I am in good health and in good spirits. The raid did not affect me," added the rebel, who blamed President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta for his associates' death, rather than the Australian troops.

"I do not blame the Australian soldiers. I blame those who gave the orders to the soldiers," he said.

The Catholic Church's willingness to mediate was confirmed to AKI by Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva from the diocese of Dili.

"The Church is ready to mediate in any dialogue between the government and Major Reinado, if both parties are happy for the Church to be involved," said the bishop, who was interviewed before the meeting.

However, the meeting is yet to be confirmed by the government.

In the meantime, the Commander of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Forces (ISF), Brigadier Malcolm Rerden, said the hunt for Major Reinado continues.

"The ISF would stand firm and continue their military operation until Alfredo and his followers are captured," Brigadier Rerden told reporters in Dili on Tuesday.

"I am asking Alfredo to avoid further conflict, including the possibility that he may lose his life. He should therefore surrender, with his men, to the national police, the UN police and international forces so that he can go to court and face the charges against him," he added.

Reinado has been on the run since he escaped from jail in East Timor's capital Dili in August along with 50 other inmates. President Xanana Gusmao ordered his arrest after he was accused of raiding a police post and stealing 25 automatic weapons last month.

He had been arrested for his role in the violence that erupted in East Timor after the dismissal of approximately 600 soldiers, who were complaining of ethnic discrimination over promotions last April.

Reinado had abandoned the army and joined them on 4 May, 2006.

The clashes left 37 people dead, forced 155,000 to flee their homes, brought down the government of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, and resulted in Australian-led peacekeeping troops being deployed in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.


Mar-13-07 09:24

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