Subject: AP: East Timor prosecutor suspects Alkatiri in weapons distribution case

July 07, 2006

East Timor prosecutor suspects Alkatiri in weapons distribution case

DILI (AP): East Timor's ousted prime minister was summoned Friday by the tiny nation's chief prosecutor to answer allegations of involvement in the illegal distribution of weapons to civilian militias.

"We have issued a new summons for Mari Alkatiri to come to the prosecutors office to be questioned as a suspect in the case of illegal weapons distribution," Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro said in a statement.

Alkatiri, who resigned last month amid public protests and strong political pressure to step down, has denied wrongdoing, but failed to show up for questions in the case, citing political immunity.

Prosecutors on Friday again ordered him to appear for questioning, this time as a suspect, on July 20.

Alkatiri and former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato reportedly armed hit squads to eliminate political opponents.

A statement distributed by prosecutors via telephone text message gave no details of the charges and a spokesman for the prosecutors office was not immediately available for comment.

Mari Alkatiri's spokesman, Jose Manuel Guterres, said: "We do not have any information on that and we do not want to make any comment."

It is unclear if Alkatiri has the right to immunity after he was automatically reassigned a seat in Parliament when he stepped down as the head of government. (***)

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