Subject: AKI: I Will Not Be Disarmed Says High-ranking Rebel Reinado

EAST TIMOR: I WILL NOT BE DISARMED SAYS HIGH-RANKING REBEL

Dili, 5 Dec. (AKI) - Renegade East Timor soldier Major Alfredo Reinado says that no one will disarm him. Met by Adnkronos International (AKI) at a ceremony he attended in Ainaro district, about 113 kilometers south of Dili, last Saturday, Reinado reiterated his intention to face justice, one day. "It is not necessary to arrest me. I am Major Alfredo Reinado, I am a gentleman and I will return to Dili to face justice," he said. "However, nobody will disarm me, not even our president, Xanana Gusmao, or our prime minister, Jose Ramon-Horta,” added Reinado, who said that he is still a member of the military police since nobody has sacked him.

Major Alfredo Reinado is tiny southeast Asian nation's highest ranking deserter. He abandoned the army on 4 May 2006 to join approximately 600 former soldiers who had been sacked in March 2006 after complaining of ethnic discrimination over promotions. Their dismissal started the East Timor crisis. Arrested for his role in the violence, Major Reinado is still at large after having escaped from prison on 30 August.

"The weapons I have ­ continued the rebel soldier ­ belong only to the people of East Timor and I am now defending their interests."

Major Reinado said he should not be considered the only "guilty party" for the disorder that began in East Timor in May.

"I should not be considered the only suspect. Former prime minister Mari Alkatiri and former defence minister Roque Rodrigues should also face the tribunals," said Reinado.

Alkatiri and Rodrigues are among those suspected to have armed a civilian militia for political ends.

In the meantime, arresting Major Reinado has turned into a political issue in Dili with ramifications that involve also the international forces currently present in the former Portuguese colony.

Deputy UN envoy to East Timor, Major General Erick Huck Gim Tan, has recently stated that Reinado "will one day be brought to account for his actions. That is the view of UNMIT [United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste] and it has not changed."

Yet, the Australian forces, the largest contingent of peacekeepers landed in the country to restore order after the May riots, have said that they are not making any effort to arrest. Ramon-Horta has said he wishes the "Reinado issue" to be solved peacefully.

"If it can be solved through peaceful means, I would prefer that, even if it takes months," Ramon-Horta told AKI, when approached last Friday. "But this does not mean that Reinado will not face justice," he added.

Interior minister Alcino Barris stressed that "There is a letter from the tribunal to arrest Reinado and the Timorese police will arrest him one day. This is our promise to the people of East Timor," he told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"We can not do that now ­ he continued - because Reinado declared clearly to the public that he will be back to face a legal process or justice. So we have to be patient. It is better for us to solve the problem without bloodshed."

Yet, House Speaker, Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres, has urged the government to arrest Reinado, before the country’s next election in May. "If not, Major Reinado and his group will intimidate Fretilin’s political leaders during the campaign and the vote," he told AKI.

Headed by Alkatiri, Fretilin is the country’s largest party.

((Fsc/Ner/Aki)

Dec-05-06 13:53


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