Sydney Morning Herald
Lindsay Murdoch in Dili April 15, 2008
THE rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was involved in 47 telephone calls to or from Australia in the hours before he was shot dead at the home of East Timor’s President, Jose Ramos-Horta, investigators have found.
Authorities in Dili want Australian agencies to tell them the names of the telephone subscribers as they focus their inquiries on calls Reinado and his men made before and after the attacks in Dili on February 11.
They also want Australian intelligence agencies to send them any telephone conversations they recorded that relate to the attacks on Mr Ramos-Horta and East Timor’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao.
East Timor’s Prosecutor-General, Longuinhos Monteiro, who is in charge of the investigation, told the Herald yesterday he had been unable to establish the identities of the subscribers in Australia.
Earlier, he told East Timor’s Parliament he had asked the Rudd Government to sign a memorandum of understanding so authorities in Australia could pass information to him.
He said he was finding the investigation into the calls “difficult”, partly because East Timor’s Portuguese-design telephone system had been “unhelpful”.
“I don’t know Australia’s system … I think it would be good,” he said.
Asked about the request, a spokesman for the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said that “as a matter of practice we don’t comment when we have received requests for information in criminal matters from other countries”.
For more than 12 months Reinado had been hunted or closely monitored by Australian soldiers in East Timor, including elite SAS commandos.
During telephone conversations with journalists Reinado, who was trained by the Australian military, often said he was certain his telephone was being tapped and his conversations recorded in Australia.
A Portuguese magazine journalist, Felicia Cabrita, claims to have obtained details of calls made around the time of the attacks by the key people involved. One call, she said, was made by one of Reinado’s men, Assanku, to Albino Assis, one of the soldiers providing security at Mr Ramos-Horta’s house.
Asked about the call last week, Mr Ramos-Horta told the Herald he did not believe Mr Assis betrayed him.
Cabrita said also that telephone records showed that until February 28 – two weeks after the attacks – Reinado’s co-commander, Gastao Salsinha, and a Timorese Australian woman, Angelita Pires, were in contact with soldiers who killed Reinado.
Ms Pires has admitted she was Reinado’s lover but has denied accusations she influenced him in the lead-up to the attacks.
Salsinha is on the run in East Timor’s mountains.
Mr Monteiro told Parliament his investigation had identified some people who had influenced Reinado’s actions. But he declined to name them.
Rumours are rife in Dili about who they are.
Mr Ramos-Horta is expected to return to a hero’s welcome in Dili on Thursday after recovering in Darwin from serious gunshot wounds.