March 26, 2008
FRETILIN today called for the International Stabilisation Force Commander in Timor Leste (East Timor), Brigadier James Baker and Minister for Health Dr Rui Nelson to appear before parliament to answer questions about the shooting of President Ramos Horta on February 11 2008.
FRETILIN’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader, Francisco Miranda Branco, said Brigadier Baker and Dr Nelson needed to clarify reports that efforts to give urgent medical attention to the gravely wounded President were impeded, and to explain the ISF’s failure to swiftly launch an operation to pursue and capture the attackers.
“It is vital to clarify these and other matters that are presently the subject of public concern and speculation. The only way to do this effectively and transparently is for the Commander of the ISF and the health minister to appear in parliament to answer questions,” said Branco.
He said there had been widespread public discussion of reports that an ambulance was prevented from crossing the ISF security cordon outside the President’s residence.
“When an ambulance did arrive, there were no doctors accompanying it despite there being a team of doctors assembled at the hospital to attend to the President at the site of the shooting. How and why did this occur when our President was lying on the ground seriously injured and losing blood?” he asked.
“The events of February 11 highlighted serious weaknesses and failure on the part of the defence and security apparatus. Together with the government and the United Nations, the ISF have a tripartite responsibility for defence and security. We therefore feel it necessary to ask the people responsible for these sectors, such as the ISF, to come and address the concerns of the representatives of the people who have been waiting for answers to such basic questions since February 11.”
Branco said the ISF commander should also explain how the attackers were able to travel undetected from Ermera district to the president’s residence in Dili without detection or forewarning, and why there was a long delay in launching an operation to pursue and capture the attackers.
“We are moved to make these requests in parliament by the strange silence that we and the public have been faced with from those responsible for defence and security in our country. A silence that has caused leading figures in our country such as the Bishop of Baucau, Dom Basilio do Nascimento to refer to the ‘mystery of February 11’. We share his views. We do not want any more mysteries, we want transparency for our people, so that we can hold the government and others accountable in light of these serious events. So far no one is prepared to take the least bit of responsibility for the demonstrated failures and weaknesses,” said Branco.
At a media conference in Dili today, Branco criticised the de facto Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s admission to parliament yesterday that the government had done nothing to establish an International Commission of Investigation into the 11 February events.
“Parliament demanded a month ago that the government establish an international investigation. Only 17 of the 65 MPs voted against the resolution,” Branco said.
“The de facto Prime Minister’s statement shows a lack of seriousness and lack of will on the part of the government to implement the parliament’s resolution.
“Our country needs a transparent and independent investigation that can only be undertaken by international experts and lawyers.
‘The current investigations, being assisted by the FBI and Australian Federal Police, are only within the ambit of establishing criminal responsibility, and we need an independent international investigation to establish the broader truth and justice,” he said.
For further information please call Nilva Guimaraes in Dili: +670 7340389