Media Release

Dili, 14 September 2009

FRETILIN / KOTA move to censure government over Bere release

FRETILIN’s parliamentary leader Aniceto Guterres yesterday tabled a
Censure Motion in the National Parliament, alleging unconstitutional
acts by the Gusmao de facto government in the unlawful release of
militia leader Maternus Bere. Bere.

The motion is expected to be debated soon. Under Timor-Leste’s
constitution, if the motion is passed by a majority of parliament, the
President will have grounds to dismiss the government and call for the
formation of a new one.

FRETILIN has 21 seats in the 65 member parliament. The censure motion
was supported by the MP from the KOTA party.

Bere had been placed in custody on the orders of the Suai District
Court, pending his trial for his alleged involvement in multiple
crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, deportation, kidnap
and torture in Timor-Leste in September 1999 following the
announcement of the pro-independence referendum result.

“Maternus Bere is one of the most wanted militia leaders from the 1999
violence in our country”, said Mr Guterres.

“He was indicted, arrested, brought before a court and ordered to
stand trial for the crimes he is alleged to have committed, and to be
imprisoned pending his trial. On August 30, 2009, for purely political
reasons and without a court order, the Prime Minister is said to have
instructed the Justice Minister to release him from this lawful
imprisonment. The President of the Court of Appeal, the equivalent of
our Chief Justice of our highest court, has confirmed that a court
order to release Bere was never issued. That makes his release
unlawful and a crime punishable under section 245 of the Criminal Code
with a term of imprisonment of between 2 to 6 years,” said Mr

On September10, 2009, the Dili weekly news agency Tempo Semanal
reported an interview with the Prime Minister where he said: “I am
ready because I did release him,” and, “I know where Becora prison is,
so as soon as a court sentences me I will go there myself.”

His Justice Minister Lucia Lobato has also stated several times in the
media that Bere’s release was a “political decision”.

“The government has usurped the powers constitutionally mandated to
the judiciary. They have interfered with the course of justice. On
their own admission, they have broken the law. President of the Court
of appeal has stated publicly that a judicial investigation has been
launched and that will in due course call whoever was responsible for
the unlawful release to account before the criminal courts,” said Mr

“Regardless of that eventuality, it is also important that the
government be held responsible for this undermining of the rule of
law, justice and the rights of victims. That is why we have submitted
this censure motion,” Guterres added.

“The Bere release has thrust the justice issue to the forefront of our
national politics. This censure motion is intended to draw the line on
where the parties in the parliament stand on justice and the rule of

“If the government’s allies blindly close ranks behind Mr Gusmao, they
will be at risk of siding against justice for the victims of the 1999
violence and for promoting impunity. This censure debate in itself
will be a victory for the rule of law and justice in our young
democracy,” Guterres closed.

For further information please contact Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 7080


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