Subject: AKI: President shooting used to discredit opponents, claims rival

President shooting used to discredit opponents, claims rival

Dili, 20 Feb.(AKI) - A leading political rival of East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta says his shooting is being misused to intimidate and discredit his political party.

Mari Alkatiri, secretary-general of the Fretilin party, said that the police investigation into last week's assassination attempt was being misused.

Fretilin, or the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, is currently the main opposition party to prime minister Xanana Gusmao’s government coalition.

Alkatiri’s was speaking after Fretilin parliamentarian, Jose Teixeira, was taken to Dili police headquarters for questioning in conjunction with the shooting of Nobel peace laureate Ramos-Horta, now recovering in an Australian hospital.

"This is political persecution ­ Teixeira is an effective media spokesman and someone in authority wants to shut him up," said Alkatiri in a statement.

"It is a disgraceful attempt to politicise the police force and use the investigation into the shooting of the president for party political gain," he added.

Jose Teixeira, minister for energy in the former Fretilin government, said six car loads of armed Timorese police took him from his home on Tuesday night

"They had no warrant for my arrest and the operation apparently was conducted without the knowledge of the senior police investigating officer," Teixeira said.

"I was released after a protest from Alkatiri."

Teixeira also said that he was not interrogated by the police and was told that “the questioning would take place on Wednesday.”

The former minister said that he may consider legal action.

Several local publications have hinted at a possible Fretilin role behind the attacks against Ramos-Horta and Gusmao. The latter was targeted in a separate, but apparently, coordinated attack on the same day.

Fretilin strongly denied the allegation and called for an international investigative team to investigate what happened on the morning of 11 February.

Rebel military leader Alfredo Reinado first came to prominence in 2006, when 600 soldiers - a third of East Timor's army - mutinied after complaining of discrimination and poor pay and conditions.

When the men were dismissed by the then prime minister Alkatiri, gunfights broke out with loyalist police and troops. Reinado became the rebels' leader, fleeing Dili and taking to the hills.

UN police and Australian peacekeepers have been searching for renegade soldiers accused of trying to kill Ramos-Horta and prime minister Gusmao.

Timorese brigadier general Matan Ruak has already demanded an explanation as to how the international forces failed to prevent rebels from reaching the homes of Ramos-Horta and Gusmao. 

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