by John Martinkus
The Age (Melbourne)
Saturday, September 16, 2006
VIOLENCE that ran over four days in May in East Timor and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was part of a plan instigated by the President Xanana Gusmao, according to new claims in Dili.
A statement by the former vice-commander of Dili district police, Abilio “Mausoko” Mesquita, alleges that Mr Gusmao ordered him to carry out an attack on the house belonging to army Brigadier Taur Matan Ruak.
Mesquita was arrested by the Australian Federal Police on June 19 with several automatic rifles. He was filmed at the scene of the attack on the brigadier’s house on May 25, which he was alleged to have led.
In his statement taken from Dili’s Becora prison, Mesquita says: “During the confrontations between PNTL (the police) and FDTL (the army) and the shooting at the brigadier’s house, the Supreme Commander, Mr Xanana, gave the command and ordered the shooting.”
Mesquita says in the statement that he told his story to the UN head of mission in East Timor, Sukehiro Hasegawa, who visited him in the prison after his arrest.
He says that before carrying out the attack, he had notified Taur Matan Ruak and four senior commanders in the army of his orders from the President.
He repeatedly told Mr Hasegawa that Xanana was the author of the crisis.
Mesquita says he repeated these claims to Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta when he allegedly visited Mesquita in jail on August 13.
If true, the statement implicates the President in what was effectively an armed coup to create the conditions for the resignation of the legally elected Prime Minister.
Mr Gusmao could not be contacted last night for comment.
The statement also details the visit of two Australian army majors who questioned Mesquita on his role in the violence and about his political allegiances.
Mesquita is still in the Becora jail, from which rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado and 56 others walked out on August 30.
The statement was said to have been written in the prison and delivered to the US embassy in Dili as a means for Mesquita to secure his release.
The statement refers to a meeting at the President’s office before the crisis, where, in the presence of local leaders, including chief of police Paulo Martins, Mr Ramos Horta and the Bishop of Baucau, it is alleged that the President discussed the need to get rid of the government of Mr Alkatiri because of its perceived “communist” sympathies.
Other sources within the veterans’ organisation independently confirm that they were invited to a meeting with the President at his residence in the hills above Dili in March, where a plan to remove Mr Alkatiri was discussed.
Investigation of the individuals involved in the three main attacks on the East Timor Defence Force in May shows that every one of them was led by leaders who have since publicly acknowledged their allegiance to the President.
Those who led the other two major attacks on the army, namely Major Reinado and Vicente de Conceicao, have repeatedly declared their support for Mr Gusmao.