Subject: ETimor President Discharged from Australian Hospital, Recalls Attack

also: East Timor President Recalls Assassination Attempt

ETimor president discharged from Australian hospital

DARWIN, Australia, March 19 (AFP) - East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta was discharged from hospital in Australia Wednesday, five weeks after he was shot in an assassination attempt in Dili, hospital officials said.

A spokeswoman for the Darwin Private Hospital in northern Australia told AFP Ramos Horta was discharged Wednesday morning.

He reportedly then visited the nearby Royal Darwin Hospital, where he also received treatment, to thank the doctors and nurses who helped him recover from gunshot wounds sustained in the February 11 attack.

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East Timor President Recalls Assassination Attempt

DARWIN, Australia, March 19 (AFP) - East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday emotionally thanked the Australian medics who helped him survive an assassination attempt and revealed dramatic details about the day rebel soldiers gunned him down.

After receiving the all-clear to leave hospital in the northern Australian city of Darwin for the first time since the February 11 attack, Ramos-Horta insisted on thanking the medical staff behind his recovery.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was by turns emotional and jocular as he spoke to staff at the Royal Darwin Hospital, telling them: "I thank you for all your kindness."

Looking gaunt and drawn after weeks of treatment which included six operations and 10 days in a medically-induced coma, Ramos-Horta rejected the offer of a wheelchair and walked gingerly to his meeting with about 25 doctors and nurses in the hospital's intensive care unit.

The 58-year-old revealed that details of the morning he was attacked outside his home in Dili on February 11 were burned into his consciousness.

"I remember every detail from the moment I was shot, I remember everything," he said.

"The ambulance... a very old battered ambulance. No paramedic. A Portuguese special police unit, GNR... luckily it had a paramedic who jumped in the ambulance and gave me the first assistance.

"On the way to the heliport I fell off the chair a few times because there were no belts.

"I remember even though I was bleeding I was holding on tight and I was telling the driver 'Go slow!'.

"But maybe he was wise because it was only a matter of minutes for me to arrive there (the heliport). And then I arrived here in your hands -- I thank all of you."

At this point, Ramos-Horta fought back tears and put his hands to his face, appearing unable to speak for 20 seconds.

The East Timorese leader also managed to joke with staff, telling one doctor that he initially mistook him for a rock star due to his long hair and handing out Timor coffee with a playful warning about its "strong Viagra content".

He handed hospital manager Len Notaras a picture of Pope Benedict XVI, saying the Pontiff prayed for him after he was shot, to which Notaras replied that the Vatican had phoned after he arrived inquiring about his condition.

"You have made a difference to our lives with your courage and capacity to move on," Notaras said.

Ramos-Horta was airlifted to the Royal Darwin Hospital on the day of the assassination attempt and stayed there until March 3, when he was moved to the nearby Darwin Private Hospital.

Outside the hospital, he told reporters: "My message to my people is please forgo violence and hatred with weapons, machetes, with arson -- we only destroy each other and the country."

He said he would stay in Australia for a few more weeks for follow-up treatment but assured East Timorese he would return soon.

"There are so many thousands of people in Timor -- the bishops, the priests, the nuns, the common people who have prayed for me," he said.

"I thank all of my people. I will be back soon."


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