Subject: Angelita Pires to write book, run for office

Sunday Territorian (Australia)

April 4, 2010 Sunday

Rebel's lover to run for office


SHE has lost a lover, a baby and her faith in justice, but Territory woman Angelita Pires says she is preparing for a new fight: bringing ``true democracy'' to East Timor.

In her first interview since being acquitted of conspiring to murder East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta, Ms Pires said she wanted to return to East Timor and run for political office.

Ms Pires' lover, rebel soldier Alfredo Reinado, was killed by government forces on the day of the assassination attempt in February 2008, in which Mr Ramos-Horta suffered gunshot wounds.

Ms Pires, a dual Australian-Timorese citizen, is now in Australia and has engaged a celebrity agent, Lauren Miller-Cilento, to secure a book and film deal of her story -- which Ms Miller-Cilento pitches as ``the modern-day Evita''.

Ms Pires has already started writing the book, based on personal diaries and love-letters. She says the stress of house-arrest and the trial caused her to miscarry Reinado's baby in March 2008.

``I've never run from anything, and I'm innocent,'' Ms Pires, 44, said. ``The fact that I won, I think, gives a lot of Timorese women courage to ask questions about their society.''

Ms Pires believes sweeping political reform is the only solution to East Timor's rampant corruption, poverty, disease and the dysfunctional justice system. She will not rule out running for president or prime minister in the 2012 elections, but says a more likely role for her is Attorney-General.

``I had to believe in myself. If you are not guilty, you have no other chance. The moment you entertain the thought of giving up, you are finished. And I'm just one woman -- to be crushed in that way was terrible. In Timor, the pressure is like the humidity -- you don't see it, but you feel it, and it crushes you.''

Ms Pires was born in East Timor but moved to Australia with her family, before returning in 1999 to work as a United Nations legal aide. She met and fell in love with the married ex-army major Reinado, who led a rebel force of disgruntled soldiers.

Prosecutors alleged Ms Pires goaded Reinado into attempting to kill the President. Ms Pires was acquitted of all charges but 23 of Reinado's men were convicted and are now in jail.

``I was the victim of a witchhunt,'' she said, adding she still feared for her safety. ``The prosecution is appealing against my acquittal so (it) is still going on.''

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