Critics question investigation into Ramos Horta shooting

ABC Online

Critics question investigation into Ramos Horta shooting

[This is the print version of story
http://www.abc.net.au/ra/programguide/stories/200808/s2330923.htm ]

Critics question investigation into Ramos Horta shootingUpdated August
11, 2008 11:13:54

Exactly six months ago today a group of armed rebels attacked and shot
East Timor’s President Jose Ramos Horta.

But the Timorese who prayed for the President’s recovery are no closer
to knowing what happened and there are fears they never will. Six
months has now past, a detailed UN report into the shooting is complete
but unreleased, and the criminal investigation by the prosecutor
general has run overtime and is being seriously questioned.

Presenter: Stephanie March

Speakers: Anna Powles, East Timor analyst from International Crisis
Group; Jose Teixeira, opposition MP; Mario Carrascalao, MP and friend
of President Jose Ramos Horta

MARCH: Six months ago today East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta
lay dying on the road in front of his home, after being shot twice by
rebels. Inside his compound were the bullet-riddled bodies of rebel
fugitives Alfredo Reinado and his comrade, killed by the president’s
guards. Shortly after in another part of Dili, Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmao narrowly survived a hail of bullets as his convoy came under
attack by another group of armed rebels.

The two dozen suspected rebels are in custody awaiting charge, but East
Timor analyst from the International Crisis Group Anna Powles says most
people in Dili believe they are not the only ones involved.

POWELS: the evidence seems to suggest there are broader factors at play
and larger forces at play behind those events. And if those issues are
not investigated and got to the bottom of and the protagonists are not
discovered those issues will remain and there will continue to remain
in the back drop of Timorese politics.

MARCH: The criminal investigation into the attacks was due to be
completed in July but reamins unfinished. No explanation has been given
for the delay, and there credibility of the man leading the
investigation – prosecutor general Longinious Monteiro’s – is in doubt.
A UN report into the violence of 2006 said Longinious Monteiro followed
blindly the policy of the then-president who appointed him, Xanana
Gusmao, and as a result he did not “function independently from the
State of East-Timor.

Opposition Fretilin MP Jose Texeira agrees.

TEIXEIRA: Although there are a number of int staff working with the pg
and we have no reason to challenge their ind or their professionalism.
I think once again we come down ot the queston that the man in charge,
the PG, has already in our eyes proved himself to be anything but
politically impartial.

MARCH: A failure to uncover the full truth, in a timely manner, could
prove fatal for the fledgling nation’s development, says MP and friend
of the president Mario Carrascalao

CARRASCALAO: We cannot afford to have a new coup attempt or a new
assassination attempt like what happened.

MARCH: But despite the expertise of dozens of international
investigators carrying out the prosecutor general’s orders, the chance
of uncovering what really happened may have already be lost. A leaked
UN report found the National Investigation Department has encountered
“political and military interference” as well as a lack of cooperation.
Poor handling of evidence, including the weapons used by the rebels,
may have also botched the investigation.

There are also concerns about details of the investigation that have
been revealed in public, many by the President himself – including
claims of a $1millon dollar bank account held by Reinado and his
Australian Timorese lover Angelita Pires, Jose Ramos Horta has
subsequently admitted he knows anything about any bank account. He’s
also called Angelita Pires a “fake”, a “manipulator” and the mastermind
behind the attacks, but to date no charges have been laid against her.

MP Jose Teixeira says the president’s comments have been unhelpful

TEIXEIRA: I think that commenting on suspects is inappropriate and I
think it is a matter that we will see in terms of what jud processed do
even. I think the one thing we must all remember is that we are all
entitle to the presumption of innocence, and I think in that regard, Ms
Pires has not had that same benefit given to her.

MARCH: All these concerns prompted parliament to call for an
international independent investigation into the events, but the
government says they want to wait until the prosecutor generals
investigation is finished. But Anna Powles from the International
Crisis Group says such an investigation could also lead to further
problems.

POWLES: It certainly raises questions If the PGs invest comes out and
it is not to everyones liking and you bring in an indep investigation
and that essentially undermines Timor’s justice system. And one has to
remember that Timor – the institutions are very much in infancy and it
takes time to build a strong robust transparent judicial system.

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