Subject: I'm ready to surrender or not: Timor army rebel


I'm ready to surrender: Timor army rebel

May 14, 2007 - 11:09PM

Fugitive army rebel Alfredo Reinado says he is ready to give himself up to East Timor authorities after deciding he could get a fair trial.

Last August, Reinado and 50 other inmates escaped from a prison where he was being held on charges of involvement in a wave of violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes last year.

"I see in Rogerio Lobato's case no interference of certain leaders in the justice process," he said.

"And now I have contacted my lawyers and sent a letter to our president, Xanana Gusmao, for a peaceful surrender to justice and returning the weapons to the authorities," Reinado, East Timor's former military police commander, told Reuters by mobile phone.

East Timor's court of appeal last week upheld a seven and a half year jail sentence for former interior minister, Lobato, for his role in last year's wave of violence.

Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who won a landslide vote to become East Timor's new president last week, appears to have taken a softer line on Reinado recently.

Ramos-Horta said he had a meeting last Friday with two bishops to discuss a peaceful surrender by Reinado, possibly this week.

"As we promised to him and to the people of East Timor that if he surrenders himself, including the weapons he seized, the government and the state will treat Major Alfredo and his associates well and respect their dignity as human beings during the judicial process," Ramos-Horta told reporters.

The former army major has been accused of raiding a police post and making off with 25 automatic weapons while on the run.

"Major Alfredo has sent a letter to President Xanana (Gusmao), which sounds like he is willing to surrender to the justice process and I welcome his letter and hopefully he can fulfil his promises in the next few days," added Ramos-Horta.

Reinado managed to evade a raid by Australian-led troops in March, which triggered thousands of his supporters to protest in the capital.

Separately, the National Election Commission told a news conference that the turnout in the May 9 presidential election, which saw Ramos-Horta win 69 per cent of the vote, was 81 per cent.

The public will be given 24 hours to contest the results before the court of appeal validates them, Faustino Cardoso Gomes, director of the National Election Commission said.

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