Coup leader still at large with Aussie’s blessing

Dili, 5 Dec. (AKI) – Renegade East Timor soldier
Major Alfredo Reinado says that no one will
disarm him. Met by Adnkronos International (AKI)
at a ceremony he attended in Ainaro district,
about 113 kilometers south of Dili, last
Saturday, Reinado reiterated his intention to
face justice, one day. “It is not necessary to
arrest me. I am Major Alfredo Reinado, I am a
gentleman and I will return to Dili to face
justice,” he said. “However, nobody will disarm
me, not even our president, Xanana Gusmao, or our
prime minister, Jose Ramon-Horta,” added Reinado,
who said that he is still a member of the
military police since nobody has sacked him.

Major Alfredo Reinado is tiny southeast Asian
nation’s highest ranking deserter. He abandoned
the army on 4 May 2006 to join approximately 600
former soldiers who had been sacked in March 2006
after complaining of ethnic discrimination over
promotions. Their dismissal started the East
Timor crisis. Arrested for his role in the
violence, Major Reinado is still at large after
having escaped from prison on 30 August.

“The weapons I have – continued the rebel soldier
– belong only to the people of East Timor and I
am now defending their interests.”

Major Reinado said he should not be considered
the only “guilty party” for the disorder that began in East Timor in May.

“I should not be considered the only suspect.
Former prime minister Mari Alkatiri and former
defence minister Roque Rodrigues should also face
the tribunals,” said Reinado.

Alkatiri and Rodrigues are among those suspected
to have armed a civilian militia for political ends.

In the meantime, arresting Major Reinado has
turned into a political issue in Dili with
ramifications that involve also the international
forces currently present in the former Portuguese colony.

Deputy UN envoy to East Timor, Major General
Erick Huck Gim Tan, has recently stated that
Reinado “will one day be brought to account for
his actions. That is the view of UNMIT [United
Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste] and it has not changed.”

Yet, the Australian forces, the largest
contingent of peacekeepers landed in the country
to restore order after the May riots, have said
that they are not making any effort to arrest.
Ramon-Horta has said he wishes the “Reinado issue” to be solved peacefully.

“If it can be solved through peaceful means, I
would prefer that, even if it takes months,”
Ramon-Horta told AKI, when approached last
Friday. “But this does not mean that Reinado will not face justice,” he added.

Interior minister Alcino Barris stressed that
“There is a letter from the tribunal to arrest
Reinado and the Timorese police will arrest him
one day. This is our promise to the people of
East Timor,” he told Adnkronos International (AKI).

“We can not do that now – he continued – because
Reinado declared clearly to the public that he
will be back to face a legal process or justice.
So we have to be patient. It is better for us to
solve the problem without bloodshed.”

Yet, House Speaker, Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres,
has urged the government to arrest Reinado,
before the country’s next election in May. “If
not, Major Reinado and his group will intimidate
Fretilin’s political leaders during the campaign and the vote,” he told AKI.

Headed by Alkatiri, Fretilin is the country’s largest party.

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