Subject: Court upholds Pires not guilty verdict

Court upholds Pires not guilty verdict


June 14, 2010 - 10:34PM


An Australian woman accused of conspiring to assassinate East Timor's top two political leaders has had her acquittal upheld by an appeals court.

Angelita Pires earlier this year was found not guilty of involvement in the February 2008 attempt on the lives of President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao but prosecutors were quick to appeal the verdict.

At the time of the attacks, Pires, 44, was the lover of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead in a gunfight that left Ramos Horta critically wounded.

Prosecutors accused Pires of being an "indirect author" of the assassination plot by convincing Reinado to kill the leaders and financing his rebels.

But an appeals court on Monday upheld the lower court's finding that there was insufficient evidence against the dual Australian and East Timorese citizen.

Pires' Darwin-based barrister Jon Tippett, QC, said it was a "wonderful decision".

"Justice has won the day," he told AAP.

"The Timorese justice system was really able to rise to the occasion."

Mr Tippett said prosecutors could not launch any further appeals.

"This is the end," he said.

It is understood Ms Pires - who has been in Australia since the original verdict was handed down - plans to return to East Timor, possibly to pursue a political career.

It is believed Ms Pires also has begun writing a book about her life with Reinado and subsequent legal ordeal.

Hollywood reportedly has expressed interest in her story.

More than 20 Timorese men have been jailed for between nine and 16 years for the assassination attempts.



AAP - June 15, 2010 3:54PM

AN Australian woman cleared of plotting to assassinate East Timor's top political leaders intends to sue the country's president for defamation.

Angelita Pires says President Jose Ramos Horta was a driving force behind allegations of her involvement in the February 2008 attempt on his life and the life of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

"I have instructed my lawyers to take civil action against the people who defamed me, including the president," Ms Pires said today.

"He must apologise and he must be responsible for the damage he has caused me."

At the time of the attacks Ms Pires, 44, was the lover of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead during a gunfight that left Mr Ramos Horta critically wounded.

After his recovery, Mr Ramos Horta made a series of public statements making it clear he believed Ms Pires had been involved in the kill plots.

But with an appeals court this week upholding an earlier not guilty verdict, Ms Pires believes she is now entitled to redress.

Ms Pires says she will return to East Timor "very soon" to pursue the legal action. "They have done the wrong thing by me," she said.

"If I didn't return that would be letting them get away with it."

Beyond that, Ms Pires is also planning a tilt at East Timorese politics to address social injustices like corruption and poverty.

Ms Pires is also working on an autobiography that will focus on her time with Mr Reinado.

"Alfredo left behind a lot of good memories for me and I think it's important to set the record straight," she said.

The appeals court this week also reduced the sentences of some of the 24 men jailed over the attacks.

But Ms Pires says she will not rest until all of Mr Reinado's men have been freed.

"They are innocent," she said.

"The decision the judges made went totally against the evidence."

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