Subject: Trial of President and PM's would-be assassins begins

also Accused Angelita Pires goes barefoot to deny murder conspiracy, 'Kill two dogs': Timor assassination trial begins 

Radio France Internationale

East Timor

Trial of President and PM's would-be assassins begins

Article published on the 2009-07-14 Latest update 2009-07-15 08:07 TU

José Ramos-Horta returns from hospital in Australia to Dili airport in April 2008 (Photo: Reuters) The trial of 28 people accused of trying to kill East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, and Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, began in East Timor's capital, Dili, on Monday. In the dock are a group of soldiers who deserted the army in 2006 and the Australian girlfriend of their leader.

Ramos-Horta was flown to Australia for emergency surgery after being shot several times during the assassination attempt. He has already declared that he has forgiven the man who shot him and may pardon the former mutineers.

"He's made it pretty clear in public statements that he will do that," says US-based Timor <> solidarity campaigner John Miller, adding that in previous cases Ramos-Horta has "very quickly pardoned people that have been convicted in the hopes of keeping social peace".

Comment: John Miller, US national coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network [see  for audio link]

The soldiers were part of a group of 600, led by Alfredo Reinado, who deserted the East Timorese army in 2006. The rebellion triggered street fighting in which 40 people were killed and 100,000 people were driven from their homes.

But the failed assassinations brought an end to the violence which had dogged the country since independence from Indonesia in 1999.

The defendants face charges ranging from attempted murder to conspiracy to murder, arising from the co-ordinated attacks on the two leaders in February 2008.

Reinado's girlfriend, Anita Pires, who is a Timor-born Australian, is accused of taking part in the attack. She says she will not accept a pardon.

"If I have to go to jail simply because of my love for Alfredo Reinado, for my son, and for the people, so let it be. I'll face it," she told Australia's <> ABC television.

State prosecutors began the trial by ejecting Pires's lawyers, an Australian and a Brazilian, from the court.

"Angelita Pires supplied clothes and medicine to Alfredo Reinado and his friends," a prosecutor told the court, adding that she gave the deserters "cigarettes which can reduce fear", possibly a reference to marijuana.

The men's commander Gastao Salsinha, who took over from Reinado on his death, is accused of launching the attacks. He and his men surrendered in a formal ceremony, attended by Ramos-Horta, last year.

Salsinha denies the charges.

Miller hopes that the trial will throw light on the reasons for the attacks.

"Why they attacked, what their motives were, a lot of that just remains unclear," he says. "One of the hopes, I think, is that of the attackers and some of their alleged co-conspirators will shed some light on exactly what happened that day and why."


also 'Kill two dogs': Timor assassination trial begins

The Australian

Accused Angelita Pires goes barefoot to deny murder conspiracy

Paul Toohey | July 14, 2009

ANGELITA Pires wore traditional Timorese dress and no shoes to the first day of her trial in the Dili District Court yesterday as a show of defiance.

Ms Pires, along with 23 former rebels and four of their associates, were indicted on numerous counts of conspiracy to, and attempting to, kill East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on February 11 last year.

"I wore this to say, 'Let's go forward and have this out'," Ms Pires told The Australian.

Going barefoot is considered to be a challenge to fight in some Timorese cultures.

The first three rows of the public gallery were transformed into a makeshift dock to hold the 28 accused, most of them rebels wearing bright-red T-shirts with "prisioneiros" emblazoned across the back.

The charges are so numerous that the indictment took more than an hour to recite.

The three judges heard an argument from prosecutor Felismino Cardoso that Ms Pires was not entitled to use her two foreign lawyers, Darwin barrister Jon Tippett QC, and Brazilian lawyer Zeni Arndt, because they had no legal standing in the country.

Dr Arndt told the judges she had previously worked with Ms Pires when she was a public defender in Dili, and was intimate with the case and regarded Ms Pires "like a daughter".

Ms Pires was given a chance to explain why she should use foreign lawyers. She said that after she was arrested early last year, Dr Arndt was the only person who had helped her.

She said Mr Tippett had strong forensic knowledge that she needed to prove her innocence. Presiding judge Constancio Basmeri Barros said the lawyers could stay.

In the early hours of February 11 last year, the rebels came down to Dili and broke into two groups. One, led by Alfredo Reinado, allegedly went to the President's compound where Reinado was shot dead and the President badly wounded by one of the rebels, allegedly Marcelo Caetano.

The other group, led by Reinado's second-in-command, Gastao Salsinha, positioned themselves outside the Prime Minister's house and ambushed his motorcade.

"I want to say on February 11 I just fulfilled an order of Major Alfredo Reinado," Mr Salsinha told the court. "Alfredo at that time had contact with the President. They came to Dili to have a meeting with the President."

Mr Ramos Horta has strongly denied he had any meeting set for that morning. The army guard who was at the gate when the rebels arrived at 6.15am, Domingos Pereira, said he was punched in the head and had his automatic weapon taken from him.

Mr Pereira had come on shift at 6am while the President was taking his morning walk. He said no one had told him about any meeting. The soldier said Reinado and an offsider, Leopoldino, who was also shot dead, had marched straight inside the compound searching for the President.

Ms Pires is accused of being an "indirect author" of events, having encouraged Reinado, with whom she was having a relationship, to go to Dili to attack the President and Prime Minister. She denies it.


'Kill two dogs': Timor assassination trial begins


July 14, 2009

AUSTRALIAN woman Angelita Pires told East Timorese rebel leader Alfredo Reinado to go to Dili to "kill two dogs" the day before the 2008 assassination attempts on the country's top two political leaders, a court has been told.

Pires, a dual citizen of Australian and East Timor, is facing trial with 27 others allegedly involved in the February 11, 2008, attacks on President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Pires, 43, was then the lover of Reinado, who was shot dead in an ambush in which Mr Ramos Horta was wounded.

Security was tight at the Dili District Court yesterday for the start of the trial.

On February 10, prosecutors said, Pires had told Reinado: "You are going there (to Dili) to kill two dogs."

In the days before the attack Pires also told an unidentified person "something" was going to happen in Dili, they alleged. The month before, Pires had travelled to Australia to raise money for Reinado's group, the court heard.

Pires, who maintains her innocence, said she felt "strong". "I am still fighting for justice," she said as she entered the court. "I still fight for Alfredo Reinado, I cannot blame him."

The accused and their lawyers packed into the small courtroom. Family of the defendants and journalists crammed into another room to watch via video link.

The court dismissed a move by prosecutors to prevent Pires' Australian legal team taking part in the trial, which continues today.


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