E Timor troops jailed for killing police

A court in East Timor jailed four soldiers for between 10 and 12 years for killing policemen during last year’s wave of factional violence.

The government’s dismissal of 600 soldiers had prompted a series of protests that degenerated into violence, leaving 37 people dead and forced more than 100,000 from their homes.

Judges at the Dili court found the four soldiers – Raimundo Madeira, Nelson Fransisco, Fransisco Amaral and Armindo da Silva – guilty of homicide in a shooting spree near the national police headquarters in May 2006.

The 600 soldiers, more than one third of the entire defence force, were sacked after they had lodged a petition alleging discrimination in the institution by the government of then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri.

The new government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, an independence hero, has been trying to hold dialogue with the former soldiers with little success.

Predominantly Catholic East Timor voted in 1999 to break away from more than 23 years of Indonesian rule in a violence-marred UN-sponsored referendum.

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