Subject: AU: Timor rebel's lover blamed
Timor rebel's lover blamed
Paul Toohey, Dili | April 19, 2008
AS Angelita Pires protests her innocence, the walls are closing in. Her last text message to her lover, Alfredo Reinado, was allegedly sent at 2am on February 11, only hours before the rebel major entered President Jose Ramos Horta's compound and was shot dead.
She claims she knew nothing about what her boyfriend was up to. The evidence indicates otherwise.
The final message read: "Don't forget to warm your charm." Reinado, like many East Timorese, believed in magic. In the dead Reinado's pockets were found five or six different charms - leaves, a stick, a bit of metal, a crucifix and what investigators think is some sort of small cannonball.
The idea is that if you warm the charm in your hand, it will protect you.
Not this time for Reinado.
Despite the talk about foreign forces guiding the hand of Reinado, the reality is that the investigation is focusing on a much more down-home failed coup attempt.
Reinado's band are singing like canaries, claiming Pires had urged Reinado to go to Dili and given him dope in the week before his death. They are turning on her in droves.
Pires sought to attach herself to men in the spotlight and was for a time obsessed with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
She had visited him in his Jakarta prison and battled Kirsty Sword, Gusmao's later wife, for his affections.
The emerging portrait is of a fixated, passionate woman who wanted to be near power but didn't understand its measure.
She felt spurned by Gusmao and trained her affections on the rebel hero, Reinado. As senior government sources have already revealed, Pires persuaded Reinado not to attend a meeting in December to resolve the rebel impasse because the Prime Minister planned to shoot him dead.
It was rubbish, but she was in his head.
Pires has denied her involvement in the events of February 11 many times and says she will be cleared. The investigation is, however, now working strongly against her. It has been reported that Reinado made or received 127 phone calls in the hours before he died. That is wrong. Those calls were made between February 1 and February 11.
Reinado's mobile phone records have revealed 47 "persons of interest" in Australia and 31 in Indonesia. These people are not suspects. They are mostly friends, supporters and family. He did, after all, have a wife and children in Perth. And of those incoming calls, investigators believe many were made after Reinado was shot - that is, people, including journalists, who'd heard there was trouble that morning.
East Timor prosecutor-general Longinhos Monteiro, and Reinado's No1 civilian backer, Ruy Lopes, have given The Weekend Australian the most detailed insights into the events of February 11 yet. It is the story of a man who became increasingly confused and isolated.
Monteiro and Lopes say that before the attacks, many of Reinado's men were desperate to surrender to authorities without losing face. Despite offers of amnesty to Reinado, who was wanted for murder, he would not listen to anyone but Pires.
Reinado's men have told investigators they came to hate Pires for her influence on their leader and say she was constantly in his face, urging him not to trust the Government. One supporter said that he had had Pires followed and planned to have her killed.
Pires's brother Antonio Pires last night said his sister's relationship with Reinado caused jealousy among the rebel group. "From what I understand Salsinha (the new rebel leader) had an axe to grind with her," Antonio said. "Salsinha regarded her as an influence over Reinado, an influence that was interfering with what he perceived to be the overall objective, to get justice for the rebels.
"But I think her influence is overstated. Of course, he would bounce some thoughts to her, but she didn't lead him. She was having an affair, she wanted a life with him in Timor, which they both loved, and for all of this to settle down."
Monteiro said Pires, a Timorese-Australian citizen, organised the cars that would take Reinado's band to Dili the night before the shootings. He said Pires left Reinado's company at 6pm the night before. Reinado and his men followed her down to Dili in the vehicles. They stayed in constant touch by text and calls. "She encouraged him to come to Dili and do this shit," Monteiro alleged. "I have nine people telling me this." Those nine are rebel members who are now in detention in Dili.
Is it possible that these men are covering their own backs by blaming a woman? In one sense, they're weak to blame Pires for their actions. But they say they weren't following her. They were following Reinado. And they say Reinado had become unstable.
Monteiro said he had evidence of a text message from Pires in which she informed Reinado that his money - he does not yet know the amount - had been transferred to the Commonwealth Bank in Australia. She provided him with a PIN and account number.
Monteiro believes Pires, who for a time worked in his office, helped Reinado to the abyss. Asked if he believed someone was behind Pires, he said: "Angie should tell us."
One text message from Pires to Reinado asks: "Where are you, my dragon?" It is followed by kisses. Not such a strange message between lovers, but when a President is gunned down it takes on sinister overtones in the minds of investigators. It is expected Pires, who has not been charged but cannot leave the country, will be taken back before the Dili court next week to review her bail position on the basis of new information. Monteiro said a large group of concealed vehicles was in the jungle hills above Gusmao's home at about 10pm on February 10. They waited out the night, then split into two groups. Reinado took a group to the President's compound and Salsinha waited in scrub above the Prime Minister's house, ordering some of his men to take an ambush position below the house.
Monteiro still does not believe that Reinado went to kill. Reinado stormed the compound, demanding to see Ramos Horta. And Reinado had reason to believe he would face little challenge that day. In his pocket, along with his charms, was found a hand-drawn map describing the lay-out of the President's home.
These details were allegedly provided by one of Ramos Horta's own F-FDTL (army) guards: Albino Asis, who used to serve as a military policeman with Reinado before the men deserted in 2006. Asis is under full-time "watch". Phone calls and texts indicate Asis was in regular contact with Reinado.
If Reinado thought a man on the inside would help him, he was wrong: an F-FDTL guard snuck into position and shot Reinado's offsider, Leopoldino, and then gunned Reinado down. The invaders hadn't at that point even fired a shot, but no one blames the President's guard for doing what they did. "Try walking into the White House with weapons and see what happens to you," said Ramos Horta on Thursday on his return to Dili.
Even so, this week he sacked his entire F-FDTL guard.
Lino Lopes runs the biggest trucking firm in Dili. He said many business people in the capital supported Reinado. Lopes would fix Reinado's cars or supply transport - not for death squads, but just to help him out.
Lino's brother Ruy lives in Batugade, near the border. He's 53, strongly built, and tells of the time in the mid-70s when he fought alongside the Indonesians against Fretilin. He says he was - and is - anti-communist.
Lopes was an administrator under the Indonesians but eventually became a Xanana supporter, though, in recent times, disappointed by government, became a strong Reinado backer. He knows the border up and down and said Reinado never once crossed to West Timor looking for support. He dismissed the international conspiracy.
"Alfredo had everything good about him except one thing: he was dumb with women," Lopes said. "He once told me a woman would be the death of him."
Lopes says he had a face-to-face meeting with two of the rebels who described what happened in the President's compound. They were Marcelo Cateano, whom the President has identified as his shooter, and Asanku.
"They knew where everything was because one of Ramos Horta's men, Albino, gave them the layout of the compound."
Lopes said Asanku and Caetano described how they, along with Leopoldino, Reinado and Lay, entered the villa. Susar, who has since surrendered, and two others stayed on guard outside. Reinado walked in with his gun hanging on his back. They kicked in doors, asking for the President. The men told Lopes that Leopoldino was shot first. Reinado cried out: "Respondez!" - his last word before he too was shot. The three ran out to find Susar and the others had fled. They began firing when they saw the President coming up the street.
Lopes said Caetano did not admit to shooting the President. "But I did not believe him. The young boy looks down. He won't look you in the eyes. They asked me if I still supported them. I said, 'Let's see who's right and who's wrong'." The men told Lopes, also verified by Monteiro, that the fleeing gunmen sent a text message to Salsinha, waiting in the hills near the Prime Minister's house, that Reinado was dead. It seems that Salsinha's band had positioned themselves at the Prime Minister's house as an insurance if anything happened to Reinado, but Monteiro disagrees.
"No, for Salsinha it was take him dead or alive," Monteiro said. "All I say is based on the nine men who have given themselves up."
Leopoldino's 21-year-old widow, Natalia Lidia Guterres, yesterday said her husband had burst in the door at 3am on February 11 looking to change into his uniform. "He said, 'We are going to meet with Senor President.' I asked, 'Who is taking you there?' He said, 'Angie Pires'." Natalia said Leopoldino seemed "most happy" because they were going to work things out at a meeting Pires had arranged. Ramos Horta said there was never any appointment.
East Timor's phone monitoring capability is poor and Monteiro said he believed Australian agencies had digital recordings of all of Reinado's phone conversations and texts from two years back. He called Indonesian police asking for the details of Reinado's calls to Indonesia. Two days later, the Indonesians flew in with a special delivery - everything he wanted to know. The information Monteiro received, and the willingness to provide it, suggests no high-level Indonesian conspiracy.
Monteiro said the Australians had been much slower to cough up phone information, saying they needed to first sign off on a mutual agreement pact.
Monteiro revealed that three of Reinado's gang were on the run in Indonesia. Monteiro requested the Indonesians detain the men and he expected they would be arrested by the time this was published. He said there was more than the 2am text from Angelita Pires - they called each other constantly through the night. He said he believed Australia knew the content of those calls, and he wanted them.
"When Alfredo died I was heartbroken," Ruy Lopes said. "Because all this was coming to an end. Horta had been to meet him, it was all agreed. (The leaders) said what was most important was that not one more soldier should die. That made me very happy. But Alfredo was alone in the end. He was on the inside but he was alone."
It is not thought that Pires wanted the President or Reinado shot but wanted her man to force a result. Stuck up in the hills for two years, frustrated, increasingly paranoid and believing he had an appointment, Reinado instead got a bullet.
Additional reporting: Michael McKenna