Subject: LUSA: Dissident army officer detained for illegal arms possession

26-07-2006 9:34:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8204082 Temas:

East Timor: Dissident army officer detained for illegal arms possession

Dili, July 26 (Lusa) - A dissident army officer has been detained in the East Timorese capital after he was found with an illegal weapons cache one day after the expiration of a weapons amnesty aimed to quell recent violence, a military official said Wednesday.

The source told Lusa Maj. Alfredo Reinado and a group of about 20 rebel soldiers had been detained by Australian international peacekeepers Tuesday night.

Maj. Reinado, who broke with the military in May in opposition to then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri but repeatedly declared his continued loyalty to President Xanana Gusmão, was the first faction leader to surrender weapons to international peace keepers last month and the first to be arrested for illegal arms possession after the expiration Monday of the two-month weapons amnesty.

In Canberra, an Australian army officer confirmed Reinado's detention, along with 21 followers, and said he and his men would be dealt with by Timorese authorities.

The commander of the Portuguese police unit that uncovered Reinado's arms cache in Dili, Capt. Gonçalo de Carvalho, displayed the apprehended weapons to journalists Wednesday.

They included nine pistols, more than 4,000 rounds of various munitions, grenades, five field radios, bullet-proof vests and other military equipment.

Capt. Carvalho told Lusa the arms cache would be deposited in a container, along with some 1,000 other weapons voluntarily handed in during the two-month amnesty period set by Gusmão, under Australian guard at the Timorese armed forces headquarters at Taci Tolo outside Dili.

Reinado and two other army officers broke with the Timorese army in early May after Alkatiri ordered a bloody crackdown by troops against several hundred sacked soldiers protesting alleged regional discrimination in the 1,500-strong military.

Reinado's group later engaged in deadly firefights with loyalist troops around the capital, helping fuel 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.

The Attorney General'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 and displaced nearly 150,000 people before the arrival in late May of the predominantly Australian peacekeeping force.



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