Subject: Rebel's Aussie lover 'caused his death', Horta

Rebel's Aussie lover 'caused his death'

The Herald Sun

20 June 2008

By Tara Ravens- REBEL leader Alfredo Reinado would still be alive today if his Australian lover had not stopped him from surrendering, says East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta.

Angelita Pires, 33, was the first person to be arrested over the February 11 attacks which left the president critically wounded.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped a separate ambush unharmed.

A dual Australian-East Timorese citizen, Ms Pires has maintained she played no part in the rebel attacks – in which Reinado was killed – and charges are yet to be laid against her. <

But her Darwin-based family say she has been prevented from leaving the country and is too afraid to step outside her home.

Speaking in Darwin today, Dr Ramos Horta said investigations into the attacks would wrap up at the end of next month, when he expected Ms Pires to be charged.

"She is the one who should tell the country whether her conscience is clean or not," he said.

"What is surprising to me is why other individuals who have lesser crimes are in jail and she is in the house and even hosting functions."

Asked why he had met with and pardoned other rebel leaders and not Ms Pires, Dr Ramos Horta said: "Alfredo Reinado would not be dead today, we would have resolved this situation and of others, if Angelita Pires had not obstructed again and again for the last year and a half.

"She is very much responsible for what happened on February 11 with manipulating Alfredo Reinado in not surrendering to justice, in not handing over his weapons."

Dr Ramos Horta conceded that Ms Pires was not "directly involved in the violence". But he called her the "mastermind behind Mr Alfredo Reinado".

"(She was) always manipulating, obstructing every effort I would make to resolve the situation with Reinado peacefully."

Dr Ramos Horta said he "didn't have a clue" about claims that up to $1 million had been deposited in a Darwin bank account in her name.

He also explained why he thought it had taken so long to press charges.

"Prosecution takes a long time, to be prudent. So there is no travesty of justice," he said.

Asked how Ms Pires could get a fair trial given his public statements about her, Dr Ramos Horta said: "The court is absolutely independent. So they will be able to dissect the truth, the facts, from what are just the allegations.

"But having dealt with the case of Mr Alfredo Reinado for over a year-and-a-half, and it is not just only myself but very reputable Swiss organisations ... and some other individuals close to Mr Reinado at the beginning. Everyone blames Ms Angelita Pires for her irresponsibility, her adventurism in obstructing the dialogue and also undermining every effort to have Mr Reinado brought to justice."

Ms Pires' brother and mother pleaded with the Australian Government earlier this year to withhold aid to East Timor until she was "charged or exonerated".

They said the claims against her were "unsubstantiated and wild".

They also called for an apology from Dr Ramos Horta and prosecutor general Longuinhos Monteiro "for their inappropriate defamation".

Mr Monteiro has flagged possible conspiracy charges against Ms Pires, alleging she was with the slain rebel leader in the hours leading up to the president's shooting.

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