|Subject: UN to investigate Timor deaths
UN to investigate Timor deaths
March 14, 2007 12:00am
UNITED Nations police will hold an inquiry into the deaths of five East Timorese killed by Australian troops pursuing fugitive rebel Major Alfredo Reinado.
Reinado escaped and remains on the run after Australian troops surrounded his stronghold in Same on March 4 and killed five of his supporters.
The raid and the deaths of Reinado supporters have raised anti-Australian feelings in East Timor. UN media representative Allison Cooper said UN police would hold an official inquiry into the attack at Same, near East Timor's south coast.
The inquiry is expected to look at the Australian troops' rules of engagement in the clash.
However, Cooper said such an inquiry was "standard practice".
She said UN police were already conducting an inquiry into the deaths of two East Timorese killed by Australian soldiers near Dili airport on February 23.
Australia says the two were shot in self defence because they were firing steel arrows at the troops.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Reinado have appealed to the East Timor government to reconsider an offer that he surrender through the mediation of the Catholic church.
"We don't want him killed through military operations," Benevides Barros said on behalf of a group of lawyers representing the hunted man.
"Our client is 100 per cent willing to commit himself to justice.
"The government should take into account our proposal, the peaceful resolution accord.
"The church has said it is ready to mediate."
Barros said the proposal had been the subject of high-level talks last Friday and on Monday involving the UN chief Atul Khare, President Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta and other senior officials, but had been rejected.
He said Dili Bishop Alberto da Silva was willing to mediate during a meeting on Monday with Ramos Horta, but had asked that church involvement be requested in a formal letter.
Press spokesman Antonio Andre said today that Ramos Horta would order "an immediate freeze" of Australian military operations if the fugitive soldier said when and where he would surrender. Ramos Horta would also guarantee his "safe and humane treatment, on capture and in prison".
But he said: "There is no mediation, because we don't see anything to mediate about."
Barros said Reinado would not surrender to the government or Australian forces, calling instead for a guaranteed ceasefire to turn himself over to house arrest, not prison.
"Convicted interior minister Rogerio Lobato has not spent a day in prison since his arrest last year," he said.
"Nor did ex-prime minister (Mari) Alkatiri, during investigation for arms dealing. Major Alfredo should also have the right to house arrest."
Barros said the fugitive wanted New Zealand or American soldiers, not Australians, as guards while awaiting trial - a proposal already made to the respective Dili embassies.
Finally, the lawyers want charges against Reinado to be confined to those which led to his imprisonment in 2006 - attempted murder, resulting from a military clash on Dili's outskirts in May last year, and revolt against the state.
They want charges of prison break and raiding a border police post for guns to be dropped. Reinado escaped from jail with around 50 other prisoners soon after his arrest late last year and has been on the run ever since.
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