Subject: LUSA: Rebel officer surrenders arms after cache spotted by int'l police

25-07-2006 12:32:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8201265 Temas:

East Timor: Rebel officer surrenders arms after cache spotted by int'l police

Dili, July 25 (Lusa) - A rebel East Timorese army officer handed over weapons to international peacekeepers in Dili Tuesday, after the arms cache was discovered by Portuguese police one day after the expiration of a two-month deadline to turn in illegal weapons.

Senior government and judicial officials were holding meetings to determine the fate of Maj. Alfredo Reinado and his men after they handed in nine 9mm pistols, hand grenades, various munitions and army uniforms.

The commander of the Australian peacekeeping force, Brig. Mick Slater, announced Monday that the two months given by President Xanana Gusmão for the voluntary surrender of illegal weapons had expired and that anyone found with arms would be arrested.

Along with two other army officers, Maj. Reinado broke from the military command in early May in opposition to then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's ordering a bloody crackdown against hundreds of sacked soldiers protesting alleged regional discrimination in the tiny armed forces.

Reinado's group later engaged in firefights with loyalist troops, helping spark a spiral of violence between rival security force factions and communal gangs that led to Dili's calling in international peacekeepers and to Alkatiri's resignation on June 26.

Reinado was the first faction leader to surrender weapons to peacekeepers last month in response to an appeal by the president.

The commander of the Portuguese police contingent, Capt.

Gonçalho Carvalho, told Lusa his men had discovered munitions in a house occupied by Reinado during a routine patrol in response to a complaint that one of the houses had been illegally occupied.

After being confronted by the find and searches of two neighboring houses, all located across the street from the Australian peacekeeping headquarters, the dissident officer surrendered his arms cache.

Capt. Carvalho said Reinado and his men had been ordered to remain in the three houses after senior government, judicial and police officials were called to speak to the dissident officer and later conferred with Gusmão.

"It was decided they would have to turn over the arms and stay put until a decision is taken on their situation", Carvalho told Lusa, referring to back-and-forth contacts held between the president and Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro over a period of seven hours.

Monteiro's office indicted former Interior Minister Rogério Lobato last month on charges of "conspiracy and attempted revolution" for allegedly arming political hit teams during Dili's wave of violence and has opened a related investigation into Alkatiri.

The weeks of violence left at least 37 dead, more than 130,000 people displaced before the arrival in late May of the predominantly Australian peacekeeping force.



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