Claims of Indonesian link to ETimor attack

ABC Radio Australia

East Timor’s president Jose Ramos Horta has revealed a possible Indonesian connection to the assassination attempt against him in February.

Our reporter in Dili, Anne Barker, says President Ramos Horta has returned home after two months recuperating in Darwin.

At a press conference at Dili airport he spoke of new evidence that shows the now-deceased rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado, had extensive connections in Indonesia and even visited Jakarta last year while he was still on the run from jail

“Who paid for his hotel for his stay? Who issued him with the false documents? he said.

The president says there is nothing to suggest the Indonesian government was involved, but its president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to examine claims that Indonesian elements were somehow connected to February’s attack.

Return home

President Ramos-Horta was greeted by thousands of people in the capital, Dili, on his return from Australia.

The president spent two months in Australia recovering from an assassination attempt.

Doctors have declared him fit to return to work.

While he reportedly still has some pain, he will need only minor medical treatment in Dili.

President Ramos Horta was welcomed at the airport by traditional dancers, who threw flower petals at him as he greeted government officials.

He hugged and kissed several ministers, and gave a brief press conference before leaving the airport to greet the crowds lining the streets to welcome him home.

The 58-year-old Nobel laureate thanked parliament, government officials, the church, the people of East Timor and the international community for their support.

“I’m happy to be back in Timor-Leste,” he said.

He also urged rebel army leader, Gastao Salsinha, who took command of rebel troops after the death of Alfredo Reinado during the attempt on East Timor’s leadership in February, to surrender.

“I ask Gastao Salsinha not to keep staying in the jungle but to surrender soon to the church or the state authorities and face justice,” President Ramos-Horta said.

Investigation into assassination attempts continues

Gastao Salsinha, together with many of the members of the rebel group that carried out the February 11 attacks on the President, is still on the run, but authorities hope they will turn themselves now the president is back in East Timor.

The United Nations review of its reponse to the attempted on the president’s life is expected to be handed down next week.

Last month President Ramos-Horta told the ABC that Australian-led international forces could have acted more quickly to react to the shooting, by sealing off roads, and capturing the fleeing gunmen.

United Nations spokeswoman Allison Cooper insists UN police responded quickly to the President’s house during the attack in February.

She says UN police were not the President’s primary protectors at the time of the assassination attempt.

“His close protection at the time of the assassination was not being provided by United Nations police or international security peace keepers,” she said.

“It was being provided by national security organisations and that was at the request of the president himself.”

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