Subject: LUSA: Attorney-General formally sworn in ahead of hearing Alkatiri on arms

17-07-2006 13:01:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8179579 Temas:

East Timor: Attorney-General formally sworn in ahead of hearing Alkatiri on arms

Dili, July 17 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão formally swore in East Timor's long-serving attorney-general to his post Monday, only days before the questioning of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, urging the justice system to work efficiently, impartially and independently.

Longuinhos Monteiro, who was appointed as Dili's attorney- general in 2001 under the then-UN transitional administration UN but who had never formally taken office, promised he would work independently, never as "the long arm of any other sovereign body".

Monteiro gained prominence during East Timor's recent spiral of violence after he summoned former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri for questioning on allegations he had armed political hit squads and earlier indicted former Interior Minister Rogério Lobato on charges of conspiracy and attempted revolution.

Alkatiri is scheduled to be questioned by the Attorney General's office on Thursday.

"No citizen, regardless of his social, economic or professional stature, is above the law", Gusmão said on swearing in Monteiro.

A team of foreign lawyers retained by Alkatiri began arriving in Dili at the weekend, ahead of Thursday's hearing.

One member of the team, Portuguese criminal lawyer Arnaldo Matos, told Lusa Monday that it was "normal" for Alkatiri to have been summoned as a "suspect" as that would allow his client to claim his "right to silence", avoiding self-incrimination.

"There are no complicated cases", Matos added, but some are "complex".

Alkatiri, who was forced to resign June 26 by Gusmão as a step to ending weeks of violence and political turmoil, has repeatedly denied the allegations he distributed arms to civilians, including self-styled "death squads", and promised to cooperate with the investigation.

First scheduled for early this month, the hearing was postponed at Alkatiri's request to allow him time to retain counsel abroad.

Matos, who arrived in Dili Monday, is one of four Portuguese lawyers in Alkatiri's 10-member team, which also includes lawyers from Australia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Macau and Malaysia.



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