Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review - 5 May 2008


(International news reports and extracts from national media. UNMIT does not vouch for the accuracy of these reports)

Price of rice threats poor people – Timor Post

As the price of rice continues to rise, poor people in Dili, Baucau and Liquiça are feeling threatened.

Most of public shops and kiosks are selling rice that used to cost US$19 for US$27, a price that poor people cannot afford.

"I am afraid this situation could bring about a big shortage of food," Jacob dos Santos, a local shopper, told the Timor Post.

He said that before 30 kgs of rice cost US$12-US$15.

The Vice President of the National Parliament Maria Paixão said that the National Parliament is making efforts to approve a tax law to regulate the price of goods in the country.

"We must recognize that the high price of goods affects the world, not only Timor-Leste," said Ms. Paixão on Wednesday (1/5) in Suco Vaviquina, Liquiça.

Ed: Court demands the truth from Salsinha, not politics – Timor Post After two years in the mountains, struggling for justice with Alfredo Reinado and their men, Gastão Salsinha should now face justice with no weapons in hand.

With five of his men, Salsinha appeared in the Court of Appeal to have a first hearing on the cases they have been involved in for the two years.

This is justice … Salsinha demands justice from the Court and now the Court instructs him to explain his motivation and actions.

Salsinha is now living in the judicial – not political – w“ world.

In the judicial world, only legal facts are needed - need no for more talk about politics. In the first hearing, Salsinha directly faced pretrial detention for charges in connection with the attack on February 11, previous homicide attempts, and carrying weapons illegally.

The charges against him show from 2006 - 2008 the Court has been aware of Salsinha"s actions. So, Salsinha has to be responsible and give clear explanations about what he has done.

If Salsinha is found innocent of the charges, then we have to say CONGRATULATIONS.

But if he is guilty, then WELCOME to the prison newcomer, who was fighting for justice but against the law. This might be our hope: that we may play in the political arena but with no violence. If not, our companions who were with us before will keep their mouths shut and wash their hands of us.

Francisco: PNTL and F-FDTL to cooperate in investigation and collection of illegal weapons – Timor Post The State Secretary for Security Francisco Guterres said that the Defence Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) and the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) are going to cooperate in a thorough investigation of weapons still un the hands of civilians.

"If there is information about weapons carried by people, then there will be an investigation into those weapons to know their serial numbers, regardless of whether the weapons are those that are missing or not," said Mr. Guterres.

He added that F-FDTL and PNTL will be searching and collecting the illegal weapons so as to avoid further conflicts in the future.

“We appeal the community to submit the weapons to F-FDTL and PNTL by 10 May. After that date, possession of weapons will be considered a criminal offense," Mr. Guterres said.

Fretilin: does not agree to TNI training of F-FDTL – Suara Timor Lorosa"e Fretilin"s bench in the National Parliament rejects a proposal that the Defence Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) be trained by the National Army of Indonesia (TNI). The objection stems from a desire to avoid offending the victims of TNI during its occupation in Timor-Leste.

"I do not agree with the training. We have to have to be considerate of sensitive feelings," said Fretilin"s MP Francisco Miranda Branco on Friday (2/5) in the National Parliament, Dili.

Mr. Branco said that before conducting the military training, the Report of Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR) and Indonesia and TL Commission of the Truth and Friendship should be implemented to heal old wounds.

An MP from the Alliance of the Majority in Parliament (AMP), Paulo de Fatima Martins said that Timor-Leste has to cooperate with Indonesia, as it is a neighbour who supports Timor-Leste for membership in ASEAN.

"It is valid to cooperate and have good relations with Indonesia. In the first Government, some police officers went to Bandung and Jakarta to take part in staff command courses," he noted.

Ed: Do not believe "insane" rumour – Suara Timor Lorosa"e

In a very mature and calm manner, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão is facing the "insane" rumour that he orchestrated the attacks on February 11. The attacks are merely political "drama".

If it is a political drama, then it is not true that Xanana is pulling the strings behind the curtain of violence.

If it is true, why didn't Xanana kill himself rather than cooperate with the rebels trying to kill him?

We should not be surprised when the rumour is addressed to Xanana, but we should be careful and wise in giving our responses because Xanana has potential enemies from the opposition and inside AMP, too.

In such a critical situation, the enemies are smart enough to create issues to find scapegoats for their sympathetic parties and groups,

Since August 2007, as the Prime Minister of the country, Xanana has made significant political progress in the country, national stability has returned to normal, IDPs are returning home, petitioners are gathered and cantoned, Salsinha and his men have submitted themselves … corruption,, collusion and nepotism are taken seriously, and the high price of rice is now handled.

Administrative reform from the national Government to the districts is ongoing. All will be done.

All these matters show that Xanana is really working and responding to peoples' demands, especially the petitioners, IDPs and the veterans.

It is impossible for Xanana to kill himself. It is just an "insane" rumour.

Guterres: a free press is important for the newest democratic country – Diario Nacional

Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres said that a free press is very important for the world's newest democratic country. Journalists around the world should firmly commit to defending justice. But justice will never appear if it is under an authoritative State.

Guterres added that most of the Timorese journalists had shown the highest nationalism during the process to the independence. While it is now time for development, there is still a need for all journalists to obey their code of conduct during the course of their work. Sometimes journalists receive threats from others because most people have only a limited understanding about press freedom. It is also important for journalists to show their freedom and responsibility to this nation.

"I am very happy today to be with the journalists, as it is an important day for the press in this newest democratic country," said Jose Luis Guterres said during his speech on a World Press Freedom Day on Saturday (3/05) at the office of STL Newspaper.

Bishop: the submission of Salsinha and his men is an important key for shedding light on February attacks – Diario Nacional

The Bishop of Baucau, Basilio do Nascimento said that the key to shedding light on the events of 11 February is in the hands of Salsinha and his men, as they have already peacefully submitted themselves to justice.

"Who will provide us enlightenment so that all of us will be able to understand the things happening around us? It was supposed to be Alfredo but he has died. The secret that Alfredo has is already buried with him. So people hope that Salsinha will divulge the secrets he has now," said Bishop Baucau Basilio do Nascimento trough the TVTL broadcast on Friday (02/05).

Government and UNMIT program starts to reduce the number of IDPs camps in Dili –“ Diario Nacional

The United Nations in Timor Leste and Government through the Ministry of Solidarity Social are currently being working together to reduce the IDPs camps in capital Dili.

The chief of the UN OCHA, Pierre Bessuges said during a press conference that the policy to close the IDPs camps is an effort to solve the issue of the IDPs in Timor-Leste.

Bishop of Baucau: collecting weaponry in the Eastern region will contribute to stability and peace in the nation – Diario Nacional

The Bishop of Baucau Basilio do Nascimento said that he appreciates the plan of the Joint Operation Command to collect illegal weapons that are still at large and in the hands of the civilians in the Eastern part of Timor-Leste, because that effort can contribute to peace and stability in the nation.

"I think the plan to collect the illegal weapons in the Eastern region is the same as what the Joint Operation Command has been doing in the Western part of Timor-Leste, so that everyone will know that only the police and F-FDTL have a right to have guns or weapons," said Bishop Basilio do Nascimento.

Prime Minister's official visit to Indonesia is productive and positive – Diario Nacional

The Prime Minister's official visit to Indonesia is productive and positive but there is a need to follow up what has been agreed between two nations to ensure a good result.

During the Prime Minister's official visit in Indonesia, both nations signed and discussed three agreements related to the commercial sector industry. The agreements focus on how Indonesia will provide Timor-Leste with technical assistance, how to establish small industries Timor-Leste in order to strengthen Timorese industrial capacity, and how they will cooperate with each other to promote Timor Leste's health department.

Wanted rebels sent back to Timor – AFP, 5 May

FOUR rebels wanted over attacks against East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão was extradited amid tight security from Indonesia today. The four men, who were handcuffed, were seen boarding a charter plane under armed police escort at Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in east Jakarta.

More uniformed and plainclothes police, some of them armed, were deployed on the runway as the rebels left for East Timor to face justice over the February 11 attacks.

Timor-Leste: Palace, karaoke, and prison: Salsinha's first three days in Dili – Lusa, 1 May Dili, 01 May (Lusa) – On Wednesday, Mari Alkatiri woke up tired and wanted to know who had thrown up a "big party" that had prevented him from getting any rest the previous night at his house in Bairro do Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste.

"I was told that the party had been held at the Joint Command headquarters, with Gastão Salsinha in attendance", said the secretary-general of Fretilin to news agency Lusa.

Gastão Salsinha is the key (living) suspect of the attacks in which the President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta, nearly lost his life.

The Joint Command is the mixed structure that was set up to go after Salsinha and capture him, in an operation that was named "Halibur".

After nearly three months of playing cat and mouse in Timor-Leste's western districts, Gastão Salsinha eventually accepted to surrender on April, 25. His group came down to Dili on Monday, April, 28.

Timor-Leste's Armed Forces and several National Police units, as well as the Prosecutor-General's close protection unit, the Portuguese GNR, the International Stabilisation Forces (ISF, under Australian command) and even a "Black Hawk" military helicopter provided a guard of honor to Gastão Salsinha and his twelve men (as well as a coffin containing long weapons).

"The reception they are getting is worthy of a President of the Republic", mocked a young Timorese sitting in the Hotel Timor cafeteria when the wailing of the first sirens approaching along Avenida Mártires da Pátria was heard

A crowd stood outside to see or confirm the surrender of the country's most wanted man, suspect of leading the attack on Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão and of having been an accomplice in the attack led by Major Alfredo Reinado against José Ramos-Horta.

Many people assembled in front of the Palácio do Governo, which faces the Dili bay, where the vehicles that had left the mountains of Lete-Foho, Ermera (west) earlier that morning eventually stopped.

The reference to a presidential-style motorcade for former lieutenant Salsinha makes sense. One day after the surrender, the Joint Command marked the completion of their mission with a dinner and music, where officers involved in operation "Halibur" sang "karaoke" to the well-known tune of "Foin Sae Timor Oan" ("Timor's New Generation").

The song is a kind of lyrical praise of hope in Timor-Leste, with lyrics and music by musician Abito Gama. It was the same song chosen by youngsters to welcome José Ramos-Horta at Nicolau Lobato airport, when the Head of State returned to the country on April, 17, surrounded by an aura as a born-again man.

Mari Alkatiri lives about two hundred meters away from the Joint Command HQ. The party must have been a very noisy one to be heard across the low-lying houses of the Farol neighborhood.

"A lot of beer, a lot of music, happiness everywhere", was how one participant summarized the event to Lusa.

Gastão Salsinha ate and drank in the conference hall were the Joint Command has established its headquarters. He sat at the officers table, with lieutenant-colonel Calistro dos Santos Coliati, operational commander of the "Halibur" operation.

It was the same room used for several weeks to welcome and question those suspect of having taken part in the February, 11 events, as well as hundreds of petitioners from the Armed Forces, while serving them coffee and biscuits . It was also the room were most of those who were caught or surrendered were presented to the media, together with their weapons.

"They all had a good time", said to Lusa lieutenant-colonel Filomeno Paixão, the first commander of operation "Halibur", about the get-together on Tuesday night.

"What happened was that the members of the joint forces were happy", the high-ranking officer within F-FDTL explained today.

Next to Coliati and Salsinha's table (who first looked uncomfortable, but was later caught smiling, according to pictures seen by Lusa), the fugitives who surrendered on Monday were welcomed, embraced and comforted with emotion by the members of the operation aimed at capturing them.

At about 22:30, Gastão Salsinha and his group returned to their place of arrest. The party went on outside the conference hall, without them.

The following day, the whole group was turned over to the [judicial] authorities by the Joint Command.

"Since 15:00 on Wednesday, they are under the jurisdiction of a judge. We no longer have anything to do with them", said Filomeno Paixão.

A few hours after being turned over to the judge, Salsinha and five of his men were named as formal suspects (arguidos) and subject to a first questioning by international judge Ivo Rosa, from the Dili District Court. The questioning continued today

As regards the other seven men, "they must certainly be walking free, because if they have been arrested, their detention will be illegal. They weren't even brought to the Court (to be questioned) because there were no arrest warrants outstanding in their name", judge Ivo Rosa explained to Lusa.

While the questioning was taking place in the Court of Appeal building, a march organized by Timor-Leste's trade union confederation passed by carrying red flags and shouting "This is your day!"

Labor Day The entrance to the court building is always kept open and through the windows at the back of the courtroom the judge could see what was happening on the street.

The formal suspects were facing the judge and with their backs to the demonstration.

At the end of the questioning, the judge ordered Salsinha and his group to be put on pre-trial detention.

Neither the judge nor the Public Prosecution Service, represented by international prosecutor Felismino Cardoso, knew to which prison the six formal suspects would be sent, since such decision lies with the Ministry of Justice.

"They must be in Colmera, for sure", said lieutenant-colonel Filomeno Paixão. He was referring to the building on Dili's main avenue that is being used as a top-security prison for those suspects of having been involved in the February, 11 attacks.

"I think it is wrong. The house is the [F-FDTL] officers' club", Filomeno Paixão explained. "But the decision was made and I have to follow orders".

It is not without irony that Gastão Salsinha, who was expelled from the F-FDTL in March 2006, will await the completion of the inquiry and for a date to be set for his trial as an '˜unofficial' officer.

"Whether fair or unfair, this is the beginning", replied Gastão Salsinha when questioned by Lusa about what he expected from the legal proceedings.


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