East Timor prosecutor criticised for failure to investigate rebels

Media Release

East Timor’s Prosecutor General has been criticised for failing to act
against two high-profile military figures who helped force the
resignation of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The Judicial System Monitoring Program, an independent non-government
organisation, says it is concerned by the Prosecutor General’s
“apparent failure to date” to initiate an investigation into Vicente
“Railos” da Conceição, an officer dismissed from the army for
disciplinary reasons in 2004.

In a widely publicised claim, Railos alleged he was recruited and
supplied with weapons by former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, with
the knowledge of former PM Alkatiri, for the purpose of forming a “hit
squad” to kill opponents of the Fretilin government.

Both Lobato and Alkatiri have denied the allegations.

In a statement issued in Dili, the JSMP said that on the basis of
Railos’s unsubstantiated allegations, the Prosecutor General launched
an investigation into Lobato and summoned Alkatiri for questioning.

“However no investigation into Railos himself appears to have been
initiated,” the JSMP pointed out.

It also criticised the Prosecutor General’s delay in investigating
rebel leader Alfredo Reinado who commanded the Military Police before
quitting the barracks in May. Reinado, who spent his exile in
Australia and trained last year at the Australian defence academy in
Canberra, was involved in an attack on government troops on the
outskirts of Dili on May 23.

Reinado and members of his armed band were finally arrested by
Portuguese police and Australian troops under the banner of the Joint
Task Force on July 26.

JSMP said it believed the Prosecutor General’s office played no role
in the arrests.

“JSMP is concerned that no action was taken earlier in this case by
the Office of the Prosecutor-General (OPG),” the statement said.

“JSMP does not understand why the questioning of Reinado and his
followers by prosecutors had not yet occurred as is required by the
Criminal Procedure Code.

“JSMP considers that delays in initiating prosecutions in high profile
cases might be interpreted as indicating that the OPG is unduly
vulnerable to external political pressure, whether from the population
or other organs of sovereignty.”

CONTACT:

Fretilin spokesman in Australia (Melbourne) Alex Tilman: phone 0419 281 175

Timor-Leste Democratic Support Network
61 / 69 Allen St
LEICHHARDT NSW 2040
August 9, 2006

Judicial System Monitoring Program in Dili: Phone: +670 332 3883
Director of JSMP Tiago Sarmento: Phone 670 723 3725
E-mail: info@jsmp.minihub.org
Website: http://www.jsmp.minihub.org

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