Subject: E Timor told to follow the rules

The Sydney Morning Herald

E Timor told to follow the rules

Mark Metherell

April 23, 2008

THE Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, has defended Australia's response to an investigation of the near-fatal attack on the East Timorese President, Jose Ramos-Horta.

Mr Ramos-Horta has accused Australia of failing to act over claims that his attacker, the late Alfredo Reinado, had a Darwin bank account holding $800,000.

Mr Reinado was killed in the attack in February in which Mr Ramos-Horta was gravely injured. The rebels also attempted to ambush the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, but he escaped unhurt.

On ABC television Mr Ramos-Horta, called on Australian authorities to take immediate action and said that if they did not act quickly, "I will take the matter to the United Nations Security Council."

Mr Smith said Australia was prepared to help, but East Timor had to first go through the necessary procedures to secure Australian telephone and banking records.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said there were "dedicated mechanisms" for providing such information. "Australian officers are working with the Government of East Timor, and we continue to offer practical assistance," the spokesman said.

A government source said there was some doubt about the report of the $800,000 bank account.

Mr Smith said he had no "personal knowledge of any of these matters". He said he could understand Mr Ramos-Horta's frustration. "But there is a simple procedure here that needs to be followed."

Mr Ramos-Horta said yesterday that East Timor's chief prosecutor was going to Indonesia to take custody of three men arrested there in relation to the assassination attempts.

He said that even without an extradition treaty the men "should be sent back" as they had entered Indonesia illegally.

The Indonesian Government had been co-operating in efforts to bring the wanted men to justice, he said.

Two of the three suspects were arrested in Atambua, near the border with East Timor, and the third was arrested near Jakarta, a regional police commander in Indonesia's West Timor said. All three were being held in Jakarta.

Mr Ramos-Horta asked Parliament to lift a state of emergency imposed after the attack on him.

But he said the state of siege would be extended for another month in a district where army rebels involved in the assassination attempt are believed to be hiding.

The rebel leader wanted over the attacks would hand himself in within days because was power base is "non-existent", Mr Ramos-Horta said.

with agencies


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