Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin
April 28, 2008
TWO rebels involved in attacks on East Timor’s top two political leaders have been arrested at the Jakarta home of a notorious Timor-born gangster known as Hercules, Indonesian police say.
Investigators in Dili have established that Hercules, whose real name is Rozario Marcal, was in contact with, and may have met, rebel leader Alfredo Reinado days before he led the February 11 attacks on President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Indonesian National Police chief Sutanto confirmed that two of four rebels arrested in Indonesia last week were at the home of Hercules, who has close ties to several retired Indonesian military generals.
Mr Sutanto was quoted by Indonesia’s official newsagency, Antara, as saying that Hercules was willing to accommodate the rebels “because of humanitarian consideration and was willing to find them a job”.
How the men managed to cross the border into Indonesia and then travel to Jakarta is unclear.
Mr Sutanto confirmed that Hercules had telephone contact with the rebels but, he told Antara, “not in connection with rebellion”.
Reinado’s mobile telephone had a listing for “Hercul”.
Mr Ramos Horta has demanded to know how Reinado managed to travel to Jakarta in May last year and take part in an interview in the studio of the Indonesian television network Metro TV.
Australian soldiers were hunting him in East Timor’s mountains at the time.
Mr Ramos Horta, who was shot and seriously wounded in the attacks, has revealed that “elements” in Indonesia not the Government or military had supported Reinado while he was East Timor’s most wanted man.
The Australian Federal Police is trying to trace the source of $1 million that was deposited at a bank in Darwin in the name of Reinado’s Timorese-born lover, Angelita Pires.
Reinado had access to the money.
Reinado’s deputy, Gastao Salsinha, is expected to surrender today after three days of talks at a house in the coffee-growing mountain town of Gleno.
Salsinha has remained in the house waiting for eight of his men to join him.
Mr Gusmao, who was also attacked but escaped unhurt, sent ex-lieutenant Salsinha a message saying that as leader of the Government he cannot forgive him but as a human being he could.
Salsinha replied that he appreciated the message.
Investigators in Dili want to question Salsinha about why he led the attack on Mr Gusmao.
Meanwhile, Australia has announced it will withdraw 200 troops from East Timor within days, leaving 750 deployed there.
“This draw-down in Australian troops reflects the improved security situation in Timor-Leste (East Timor),” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement.
More than 2500 foreign troops and police remain in the country to help local security forces maintain stability.