Office won’t confirm that Ramos-Horta knew attacker

AAP Newsfeed

March 13, 2008 Thursday 2:32 PM AEST

DARWIN March 13

The office of East Timor’s president says it will not confirm reports that Jose Ramos-Horta has identified his attacker as a former soldier he helped nurse back to health.

Arsenio Ramos-Horta, the president’s brother, told News Ltd’s The Australian newspaper that Dr Ramos-Horta had identified Marcelo Caetano as the man who shot him twice in the back outside his home in Dili on February 11.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was also targeted by rebels that same day but escaped unscathed.

“I have no idea (why Caetano shot him) because the president treated him well,” Arsenio Ramos-Horta said.

Caetano had been shot in the chest two years ago and Dr Ramos-Horta had “organised for his treatment”, he said.

“After that, he stayed in our place for a couple of weeks in 2006 as he got better.”

Dr Ramos-Horta has told visitors to Darwin Private Hospital that he forgives rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was killed in the gun battle, for his role in the attacks.

Caetano is believed to be one of his junior rebels.

A spokesman for the president’s office today refused to confirm the media reports.

“The president won’t comment formally because investigations are still underway (and) … it is not clear yet,” he told AAP.

“If it is still undergoing investigation the government won’t make any comment.”

So far, arrest warrants have been issued against 17 people suspected of involvement in the attacks, including the man who took command of rebel soldiers after the death of Reinado, Gastao Salsinha.

The spokesman said the president was expected to move out of hospital in a week or two but would remain in Darwin for some time while undergoing outpatient treatment.

He is expected to undergo a sixth operation to re-attempt part of a skin graft before he leaves.


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