Calls for ETimor rebel to surrender as trial begins

ABC Radio Australia

Last Updated 03/12/2007, 22:39:28

Calls have gone out in East Timor for the rebel soldier Alfredo Reinado to surrender to authorities.

The former commander of the military police remains on the run after escaping from custody at the height of East Timor’s crisis last year, which left at least 30 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless.

His criminal trial on various charges of murder, attempted murder and revolt is due to begin in the capital Dili on Monday.

Estanislau da Silva, a member of the Fretilin Party’s Central Committee, who became temporary prime minister following the ousting of Mari Alkatiri during the crisis, has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program he doesn’t see a problem with the trial occurring without Mr Reinado’s presence.

“I think the trial is going to go ahead, because the charges are following the legal procedure, so regardless of whether Alfredo is going to be present or not,” he said.

Last minute talks

The authorities are maintaining their efforts to negotiate his peaceful surrender, with meetings right up to the 11th hour.

Mr Reinado remains holed up in the Gleno area and will be tried with his co-accused in absentia.

The government’s decision not to arrest Mr Reinado has led to tensions between the international judges and the president, Jose Ramos-Horta, and Mr da Silva says it is not an easy situation to resolve.

“I think everyone believes that the issue is complex,” he said. “So it needs to be properly addressed. What is lacking here is consultation for what needs to be done.

“The judges, regardless of who they are, whether they are Timorese or not, they are defending the constitution, and defending the legal system that is in place in this country at the moment.”

You can find the full story at Radio Australia’s Connect Asia website: http://radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia

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