Subject: Timor govt appeals Pires court decision

Timor govt appeals Pires court decision


April 9, 2010 - 10:59AM


A decision by the East Timor government to appeal the acquittal of a Darwin woman, accused of attempting to assassinate the country's top two political leaders, is outrageous, lawyers say.

Last month a panel of three judges found Angelita Pires, 44, not guilty of the 2008 attack on President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Ms Pires was the girlfriend of major Alfredo Reinado, the rebel leader who was shot dead during the gunfight that left Ramos Horta critically wounded.

Prosecutors had accused Ms Pires of being an "indirect author" of the assassination plot.

More than 20 of Ms Pires's co-accused were found guilty and jailed for between nine and 16 years.

Darwin-based barrister Peter Maley said he and Jon Tippett, QC, had received a letter a few days ago which, after translation, revealed the Timor government had lodged an appeal against the acquittal of Ms Pires.

"Effectively the government are appealing the finding by the court that our client had nothing to do with the alleged assassination," he told AAP.

"This is outrageous- they are appealing a finding of innocence."

Mr Maley said he believed the appeal, lodged by the Office of the Prosecutor-General, was politically motivated.

"She has made noises and I understand she is considering running against Horta, at the presidential election which I think is coming up next year," he said.

"She has an enormous amount of support.

"She is a genuine political adversary for Horta and this appeal or prosecution of her in the appellant court an abuse of process.

"She has already run the gauntlet of a trial, dozens of witnesses, seven months of evidence and she was found not guilty."

Mr Maley said he did not know how long the appeal process would take, nor what extradition arrangements were in place between Australia and Timor.

"It's early days," he said.

While it is understood Ms Pires remains in Darwin for safety reasons, Mr Tippett has left for Timor due to difficulties in cross-country communications.

There has been much speculation in media reports of late about Ms Pires signing a book and movie deal.

"I know a lot of people have been approaching her, so I think it's only a matter of time," Mr Maley told AAP.

"She's an intelligent, articulate, motivated woman who has been through a tragic ordeal and I think her story is one worth telling."

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