Subject: East Timor Soldiers Jailed For Killing Police [2 Reports]

also: East Timorese soldiers convicted of murdering unarmed police

East Timor soldiers jailed for killing police

By Tito Belo

DILI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A court in East Timor jailed four soldiers for between 10 and 12 years on Thursday for killing policemen during last year's wave of factional violence.

The government's dismissal of 600 soldiers had prompted a series of protests that degenerated into violence, leaving 37 people dead and forced more than 100,000 from their homes.

Judges at the Dili court found the four soldiers -- Raimundo Madeira, Nelson Fransisco, Fransisco Amaral and Armindo da Silva -- guilty of homicide in a shooting spree near the national police headquarters in May 2006.

The 600 soldiers, more than one third of the entire defence force, were sacked after they had lodged a petition alleging discrimination in the institution by the government of then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri.

The new government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, an independence hero, has been trying to hold dialogue with the former soldiers with little success.

Predominantly Catholic East Timor voted in 1999 to break away from more than 23 years of Indonesian rule in a violence-marred U.N.-sponsored referendum.

The country of about 1 million people became fully independent in May 2002 after more than two years of U.N. administration but remains one of the world's poorest. (Writing by Ahmad Pathoni; editing by Roger Crabb)


East Timorese soldiers convicted of murdering unarmed police

DILI, East Timor, Nov 29 (AP) - Four East Timorese soldiers were convicted of murder and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison Thursday for gunning down unarmed police officers during a spasm of violence in the fledgling democracy last year.

Eight police officers were killed and 25 other people wounded when the troops opened fire on them during a U.N.-mediated cease-fire. They were walking past the Justice Ministry with a white flag and their hands in the air.

East Timor descended into chaos last April when a third of the army deserted, fleeing to the hills with their weapons. Clashes between police and army forces gave way to gang warfare, looting and arson that left at least 37 people dead and drove 155,000 people from their homes.

Relative calm was restored by thousands of foreign troops -- still needed to maintain peace -- and a new president and government were installed earlier this year without major incident.

Former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato was sentenced to seven years in prison for arming civilians, but Thursday's ruling was the first against those directly involved in the bloodshed.

On Monday, the court will put on trial renegade soldier Alfredo Reinado, who last week threatened fresh violence against the government, said Judge Ivo Rosa Caeiro. Reinado is not expected to attend the hearings.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 2002 after more than two decades of brutal Indonesian occupation. Its new political leaders, including President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, have vowed to tackle rampant poverty and restore damaged relations between the country's police and army..

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