Subject: 4 Corners: "Stoking the Fires" 

Australian Broadcasting Corporation



Program Transcript

Read the full program transcript of Liz Jackson's report "Stoking the Fires".

Reporter: Liz Jackson

Date: 19/06/2006

LIZ JACKSON: As international forces assist East Timor emerge from violence and mayhem, the political push is now on to force the country's Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, to stand down. Alkatiri is a terrorist, a communist, a Muslim, say the men at this rally up in the hills to Foreign Minister Ramos Horta. The rumours about Dr Alkatiri are many and wild. But evidence is thin on the ground. It's here we're told, for the first time, that Alkatiri ordered his Minister for the Interior to hand over weapons to a secret civilian security team.

MAJOR TARA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): These weapons were given by Rogerio Lobato but were authorised by Mari to give to the members of Fretilin Congress.

LIZ JACKSON: This is what you believe?

MAJOR TARA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): This happened. It happened many times over.

LIZ JACKSON: Tonight East Timor's Commissioner of Police reveals to Four Corners documentary evidence that the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri knew one of his ministers was arming civilians. He knows how damaging this could be.

LIZ JACKSON: Are you fearful of the consequences?

PAULO MARTINS, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PNTL: Consequences, yeah. Maybe they have to make some trouble with me.

LIZ JACKSON: While life is returning to the streets of Dili, thousands of refugees are still too scared to return to their homes. They don't trust that it's over yet. The threats, the rivalries, the political intrigues that enflamed the violence, all remain unresolved. Tonight on Four Corners we seek to uncover how it could come to this. It's around 8am at police headquarters in the East Timorese capital of Dili. Every morning now, the police who have not abandoned their jobs put on their uniforms and go through the motions of pretending they still have authority and a job they can do. The reality is they're not allowed out on the streets for fear of provoking further violence and mayhem. But it's important for morale to keep up the parades. Inspector Afonso de Jesus is today the senior officer of the PNTL, as the Timorese Police Force is known. It's just over three weeks since seven of his colleagues were shot dead in cold blood after a gun battle with the country's army - the FDTL.

LIZ JACKSON: Why was the army opening fire on the police?

INSPECTOR AFONSO DE JESUS, PNTL: I don't know the reason why they are firing on us.

LIZ JACKSON: The bloodstains are still on the stairwell where police were hit by the incoming fire. It's not the first time that rivalry between the police and the military has erupted into violence. The army has increasingly resented the aid money, weapons and resources poured into establishing a police force when it was members of the army who fought for Timor's independence. On the morning when the gun battle was raging, Inspector Afonso got a call from the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

INSPECTOR AFONSO DE JESUS, PNTL: He called me by phone and said, "It's OK. Afonso, you should stop the firing". But I responded to the Prime Minister, "OK, we are not firing but the FDTL still keep attacking us in this building." After that...

LIZ JACKSON: So the Prime Minister rang you and said, "Could the police stop firing?"

INSPECTOR AFONSO DE JESUS, PNTL: Stop the firing. And they think that we are the ones who are firing. But as I said, we are not firing.

LIZ JACKSON: The gun battle was being observed with mounting alarm by United Nations police and military advisors. At around 11am two of them made a fateful plea to their boss, head of the UN mission, Sukehiro Hasegawa.

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE, TIMOR-LESTE: They came to me and they felt very strongly that they have the ability to stop the firing. Both sides, they know FDTL officers and also PNTL officers.

LIZ JACKSON: The UN officials talked with the head of the military and with senior police. Assurances were given, a deal was made - if the police surrendered their weapons, the army would allow the unarmed officers safe passage out of their compound under UN escort. Many of the police were reluctant. It was inspector Afonso's job to persuade them. You personally asked three police officers to give up their weapons?

INSPECTOR AFONSO DE JESUS, PNTL: Yeah, weapons. All our weapons we surrendered to Mr Fernando Reis and also the other friends from the UNPOL.

LIZ JACKSON: Within minutes of emerging, the police officers were gunned down. This was the aftermath. Four people were shot dead on the road. Three died later in the UN compound. 25 were wounded. Witnesses say two or three men in army uniforms had been waiting for them down at the corner of the road. No-one is officially saying who gave the order to shoot but this shocking event revealed to the world how close East Timor was to a bloody collapse into a failed state.

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE, TIMOR-LESTE: They shot at Timorese police officers and they carefully avoided the UN police officers. It was incredible that UN police officers were not shot to death.

LIZ JACKSON: So it was not random?

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA, UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE, TIMOR-LESTE: No. It was very well... In fact, perhaps a planned attack.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: I was very clear to Mr Hasegawa that as a government we are open for investigation, to investigate all the situations, including this one.

LIZ JACKSON: You will investigate all the situations that have occurred?


LIZ JACKSON: Prime Minister Alkatiri arrives at the National Parliament building under the protection of Australian soldiers. Even with protection he can no longer mix with the people he governs. He was never a popular figure before and now given the chaos in the country, his leadership is under siege. Prime Minister Alkatiri, I'm from Four Corners. Alkatiri spent the 25 years of the independence struggle in exile, mostly in Marxist Mozambique. He returned at the end of 1999.

LIZ JACKSON: People say of the Prime Minister that he has an arrogant and aloof style and is a Marxist. Are they right?

DR JOSE TEIXEIRA, DEPUTY MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, MINERALS AND ENERGY POLICY: I think he's far from being a Marxist. I work closely with him. If you look at the policies that the government has adopted in terms of developing the private sector, driven, policies driven largely also by the Prime Minister. So I think that that accusation, that he's a Marxist, falls very, very foul.

LIZ JACKSON: Jose Teixeira is the PM's spokesman. A former Brisbane lawyer, he left East Timor when he was 11, returning in 2002. Work today is organising last-minute details for a visit from Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Teixeira believes that Dr Alkatiri's tough stance in the negotiations over oil and gas rights in the Timor Gap won him no friends in Canberra. Do you feel that there's been pressure from the Australian Government in terms of who should run this country?

DR JOSE TEIXEIRA, DEPUTY MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, MINERALS AND ENERGY POLICY: Look, I'm sure that this Prime Minister and this government are not the favourites of people in Canberra, and I don't just mean the political personalities in Canberra, but others that form part of the Canberra establishment.

LIZ JACKSON: Alexander Downer arrives half an hour late. He and his entourage had gone to see one of the Prime Minister's political rivals, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta, first. So Dr Alkatiri keeps them waiting now.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Oh, hello, Prime Minister.


LIZ JACKSON: Alkatiri was not as keen as Ramos Horta to seek international military assistance, but he signed on the dotted line. He says he's getting no foreign pressure to resign before elections scheduled in six to nine months time.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: No, up to now, I haven't got any pressure from any governments. Of course, some people have been... delivered some statements that it will be better for the solution of the conflict if the Prime Minister stepped down, but I think that this is, is not a... It's unfair, but I don't really consider it as a pressure.

LIZ JACKSON: Who are you singling out, then?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: You know very well who I am singling out.

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The problem is, obviously, can the country afford the next six months, nine months of this continued pressure on the Prime Minister to resign? Can we afford this increasing loss of credibility of the government and poor image of the country? Or should the Prime Minister say, "Well, I step aside in the interests of my own party. It seems that I am liability to my own party, if not to the country."

LIZ JACKSON: The pressure began two months ago. There was a 5-day demonstration by 600 sacked army officers - known as the petitioners - and their supporters. They claim they suffer discrimination because unlike most of the senior army officers, they came from the west of the country, near the Indonesian border. They say they're portrayed as collaborators with Indonesia, while the easterners take all the credit for the independence struggle. By the middle of the day, hooligans had swelled the crowd and it turned ugly. Rocks were thrown, cars were torched, the regular police lost control, and the riot police in black opened fire. By late in the day, the mayhem had spread. The Prime Minister called in the army. By nightfall, 60 people had been shot. Five people were dead.

LIZ JACKSON: Did you authorise those troops to fire on the demonstration?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: No. One thing is to call the troops to help police to control the situation. The other thing is to fire against the demonstration. I made it clear, the instructions were clear, to control, to get them away and not to go after them.

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The Defence Force must not be brought to, uh... prevent or to stop civil unrest, because they are not trained for that. And you never know for sure the consequences when they enter in the city. And without consulting the head of state - particularly someone like Xanana Gusmao, who has an exceptionally good political instinct, that is, yes, a grave error of judgement.

LIZ JACKSON: Over the following the days, warring factions of the security forces turned on each other. Gangs of hooligans roamed the streets, 45 homes were burnt to the ground. People were shot and stabbed, some were burnt alive. More than 14,000 people fled their homes in terror and camped in the grounds of churches, embassies and out near the airport. 70 per cent of police deserted their posts and a rebel army faction took their cars and their guns to the hills in solidarity with the petitioners. Their leader, Major Alfredo Reinado, remains there still, demanding that Alkatiri resigns.

MAJOR ALFREDO REINADO, MILITARY POLICE, F-FDTL: I think he has to step back from the position and face their investigation, and if they prove he did do anything wrong with his leadership, he will go and face the court then.

LIZ JACKSON: Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Ramos Horta arrives at the presidential office to be sworn in as the new Minister for Defence. Following the violence, the Interior Minister and the Minister for Defence have both been pressured to stand down. Is that fair?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Yes, that's absolutely fair, because ministers in other countries stand down for minor offences, so that as a first step, that is fair.

LIZ JACKSON: On that basis, should the Prime Minister, as the head of the government, resign for precisely the same reasons?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I knew if I had answered this question, your next question would be precisely...that one. So, I prefer to abstain from responding to this question.

LIZ JACKSON: Foreign ambassadors and the United Nations crowd into a small backroom to witness the swearing in. Everyone is waiting for the President Xanana Gusmao to arrive, including, at the back, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Three days before, the President publicly announced that he was assuming principle responsibility for security issues.

LIZ JACKSON: Has the actions of the President undermined any authority that the Prime Minister has in terms of his capacity to govern this country?


LIZ JACKSON: No comment?


LIZ JACKSON: Has the President placed any pressure on you to resign?


LIZ JACKSON: The President.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: No, never. The President is one of the stronger defender of the Constitution here in this country.

LIZ JACKSON: President Xanana Gusmao arrives. While publicly maintaining a semblance that they're working together, it's widely known that Xanana Gusmao has sought legal advice about whether under Timor's constitution he has the power to sack Alkatiri. The short answer is no - not without a parliamentary vote of no confidence. And in the parliament, Alkatiri's Fretilin Party has the numbers. The only provision that would force the Prime Minister to stand aside is if he were charged with a serious criminal offence. The rift between the Prime Minister and the President goes back 20 years, when Gusmao left the Fretilin Party to adopt a more centrist, more inclusive, less hardline stance.

XANANA GUSMAO IN PARLIAMENT: Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, it was not supposed to be so solemn ceremony. But we must recognise that, because of the situation, it is a special one.

LIZ JACKSON: Would you describe the relationship between the President and the Prime Minister as the President being very supportive of the Prime Minister?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FORFOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, I would not say that the President is very supportive of the Prime Minister. I would say that the President is very mindful of his responsibility, particularly in times of crisis, but also in normal times, to ensure that the institutions of the state, the democratic institutions of the state, do function normally.

LIZ JACKSON: Two days later, we hear that new defence minister, Jose Ramos Horta, has headed south-west of Dili to meet with rebel soldiers and their supporters, who've rallied in the township of Gleno. As we arrive, Ramos Horta is telling the rally that he's asked for an international inquiry into who's behind the violence and killings between the warring security factions.

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Regarding the investigation, it will go ahead as planned, but I can't comment any further because it would be disrespectful to the international commission.

LIZ JACKSON: The people here have brought their banners and trucks because they're planning to demonstrate in Dili tomorrow, calling on the Prime Minister to resign. Ramos Horta tells them this is their democratic right.

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I said, "It is your right to demonstrate. And...I do not going to say you should not or should not, that's not my responsibility."

LIZ JACKSON: Would you describe those people in Gleno as your supporters?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Well, it seemed like, it seemed like, as many of them said, I should be the Prime Minister... ah, yes, in many places. To drive, just now, I came from Maliana. Everywhere I have been to - Baucau, everywhere - and I have had tremendous sympathy, support, warmth from the people by the thousands, by the hundreds. And I feel overwhelmed, maybe because they are desperately looking for leadership, looking for people they can trust.

LIZ JACKSON: Major Tara, in the baseball cap, is the leader of this group. He's still officially in the Timorese army but deserted to the rebels after April 28th. We asked him why the Prime Minister should stand down now. Why not wait for elections?

MAJOR TARA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): There's too much evidence. We can't wait till the next election, because some members of Fretilin already have guns and they are threatening people so that people will vote for Alkatiri.

LIZ JACKSON: Later we're taken further into the hills to meet up with Lieutenant Salsinha - head of the group of so-called petitioners. He's supposed to have the evidence - documentary evidence - that the Prime Minister has given weapons to ministers of the Fretilin Party. This is a serious allegation - maybe, if true, enough to force Alkatiri to stand down.

LT GASTAO SALSINHA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): In the documents there are listed which district... how many weapons in every district. Who responsible for these weapon and who carry these weapon. All in document. Name included.

LIZ JACKSON: And these are civilians?

LT GASTAO SALSINHA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): Civilian and some of Fretilin militant.

LIZ JACKSON: But it turns out the documents are not available.

LT GASTAO SALSINHA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): At the moment I don't have, but...

LIZ JACKSON: It is possible for us to see them later?

LT GASTAO SALSINHA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): It's still not possible because these document... they keep not in this place. Somewhere else.

LIZ JACKSON: You keep them somewhere else. Is it possible for you to introduce us to the three civilians who have made the statements? Is it possible for us to talk with them?

LT GASTAO SALSINHA, F-FDTL (TRANSLATION): No. They are hiding somewhere.

LIZ JACKSON: The following day, a long convoy of trucks heads down from the hills and from the far-western border towns into the capital of Dili. They were stopped at the outskirts for 30 minutes or so, but after a few calls on the mobile phone Major Tara accepts the deal put to him by Jose Ramos Horta. The demonstrators can come into the capital, they can deliver their demands to President Xanana Gusmao himself and then leave but keep it under control. There's a little bit of rock-throwing but that's about it as the convoy slowly wends its way to the President's office. About 2,000 people have come to demand that Prime Minister Alkatiri stand down.

LIZ JACKSON: Do you think you've lost the support of the people?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: This country is not a country of 2,000 people. This country - a country of one million people. That's why 2,000... 2,000 is your number. My number is even much less than 2,000. I have put people counting one-by-one and it's...not more than 1,000 people.

LIZ JACKSON: You've had people counting one-by-one?


LIZ JACKSON: And you put it at 1,000?


DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: The fact there is 2,000 or 1,000 - it's small for the scale of Dili and East Timor but it is true - the depth of dissatisfaction and criticism of the government as a whole and in particular the Prime Minister is much more widespread than the number of people demonstrating the other day - 1,000 or 2,000. It is widespread sentiment.

LIZ JACKSON: President Gusmao thanks the crowd for coming and reminding him of his responsibilities but makes no mention of their central demand that Alkatiri should stand down. He appeals for calm and promises he'll address the many crises that face the country.

XANANA GUSMAO: I promise. After this crisis, people will no longer continue to suffer.

LIZ JACKSON: Does there come a point where unpopularity alone is a good enough reason for a Prime Minister to stand down?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Well, let me tell you one thing. No-one has asked me, personally, to step down. If I were to receive just 10 per cent of the criticisms that the Prime Minister has received - all kinds of invitations to step down - well, I would have stepped down long ago.

LIZ JACKSON: The following night we get a message. The group of men who claim they were given weapons on the orders of Alkatiri are ready to meet us. The meeting place is Liquica - an hour's drive west of Dili. Their leader, Commander Rai Los, is there when we arrive but before we talk we must wait for the rest of the group.

MAN: He has to wait for the coming of other members so that we can report in full with the other members.

LIZ JACKSON: I understand. Thank you very much.

LIZ JACKSON: We'll wait till the other people arrive. They're travelling on bad roads from various locations - they could be some time. While we wait, we're given a document that purports to be a memo written to the then Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato - dated 20 May 2006. It's headed 'Fretilin Secret Security Team' and attached is a list of 30 names whom we're told are all the members of the team. There's a further list of the serial numbers of 16 weapons next to the names of the men who were given them. The memo says that Commander Rai Los was asked by Minister Lobato six weeks ago to recruit and arm a team of former resistance fighters because "the situation in the country has been threatened by an opposition party." It reports a claimed meeting on 8 May where Mari Alkatiri speaks with Commander Rai Los about how to settle the issues that have arisen between east and west. But nothing more specific than that. 90 minutes later we drive to a new location. The team is assembled and they've brought their guns. Commander Rai Los has put on a uniform as well. But he and his men are not soldiers - they're civilians.

LIZ JACKSON: Can we come inside and talk?


LIZ JACKSON: Once inside, Commander Rai Los made a series of allegations about the purpose of this team - some far more serious and sinister than in the document we'd read. He spoke about a 30-minute meeting with Mari Alkatiri.

COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO,'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (TRANSLATION): In this meeting he instructed Comrade Rogerio to distribute the weapons to the Fretilin Secret Security Team.

LIZ JACKSON: He alleged he was told the team's secret mission over the next 12 months was as follows...

COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO,'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (TRANSLATION): Firstly, to eliminate petitioners - totally destroy petitioners. Secondly, to terminate opposition leaders. Thirdly, to exterminate the military leaders like Major Alfredo, Major Tara, Major Tilman and their men who have taken weapons into the mountains. And finally to eliminate any Fretilin members who oppose the the policy of Mari and of Fretilin.

LIZ JACKSON: Rai Los says his team had used their weapons in a gun battle with the regular army - in the so-called Tibar incident. This is footage of his men in action. He says four people were killed, and this is why he decided to abandon his loyalty to Mari Alkatiri.

COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO,'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (TRANSLATION): Then I realised maybe I should be on the side of the petitioners against the FDTL. At that point, I realised Mari wanted to divide the people and keep control of the government.

LIZ JACKSON: Rai Los makes what seems an unlikely claim. But though he's now telling the rest of the world, he has not informed President Gusmao.

COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO,'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (TRANSLATION): We haven't informed the president. Mari ordered that.

LIZ JACKSON: When we asked how he could prove any of this, Rai Los put on an unexpected show. He lined up his men with their weapons - safety catches off - and then dialled what he said was former minister Lobato's mobile phone. Rai Los had told him the petitioners were around and now he gives his men the signal.


COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO, 'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (ON PHONE): There's a lot of shooting. They just hit one of our men. One of our soldiers. They're taking cover.

MAN ON PHONE: How many are there?


MAN ON PHONE: OK, take cover and defend yourselves.

COMMANDER VINCENTE DA CONCEICAO, 'RAI LOS', FRETILIN SECURITY TEAM (ON PHONE): OK, but brother, you need to contact comrade Mari.

MAN ON PHONE: I've contacted him already. You have to fire back and defend yourselves.


LIZ JACKSON: We checked the mobile number the following day, and Rogerio Lobato did indeed answer the phone. Rai Los then produced more evidence. He'd saved the former minister's text messages as well. He showed us this one sent from Lobato's mobile phone, dated June 4th. That's two days before the anti-Alkatiri rally was headed for Dili. "To Rai Los. Opposition will come from Emera intending to demonstrate in Dili to put down the government. Why not stop them at the coffee plantation in Rai Laku and burn all 26 trucks?" Rai Los had no proof of his allegations against the Prime Minister. Just one text message from Alkatiri's mobile, date - June 1. All it said was, "Where are you going?"

LIZ JACKSON: Are you aware of a group called the Fretilin Secret Security Team?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: This is wrong, there is no Fretilin Secret Security for sure. Are you aware of that title?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: Yes, one of the rumours, yes.

LIZ JACKSON: One of the rumours?


LIZ JACKSON: We met a group of 30 armed men last night who said they were the Fretilin Secret Security Team.


LIZ JACKSON: And they also said they were recruited and armed by your former interior minister, Rogerio Lobato, under your orders.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, no, no,, you will even really identify others. 30, or 50, or 60, and tried, the groups who tried to accuse, ah, the former minister or also current ministers or myself, but this doesn't mean that there is not a manipulation of others. I do believe that there is no civil... not regular armed peoples that were armed by the government.

LIZ JACKSON: The Prime Minster agreed that he did have a meeting with Commander Rai Los - Rai Los is a fellow member of the Fretilin Party - but Alkatiri says all the allegations that Rai Los makes are false.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: People are now looking to really, to demonise my image. This is the only thing I can say.

LIZ JACKSON: Where do you imagine they got their guns from?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: Please, it's better to ask them.

LIZ JACKSON: Well, I did ask them...


LIZ JACKSON: ..and they said it was from you.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: I never had one guns in my hands. I am not police, I am not armed force - I am Prime Minister.

LIZ JACKSON: The following day, we called at Rogerio Lobato's house.

LIZ JACKSON: Good morning.

MAN: Good morning.

LIZ JACKSON: My name is Liz Jackson, from Australian television

MAN: You want to Mr...

LIZ JACKSON: Yeah, Mr Rogerio Lobato.

MAN: Mr to talk for TV come?

LIZ JACKSON: Yes, please.

MAN: OK, wait.

LIZ JACKSON: Thank you.

LIZ JACKSON: We wanted to ask the former minister some questions, and he was no longer answering his mobile phone.

MAN: Sorry, Mr Rogerio, call to phone for - he come? No. Mr Rogerio, no.

LIZ JACKSON: He's not here, or he doesn't want to speak to us?

MAN: No, no. He not, no maybe sleeping.

LIZ JACKSON: He's sleeping?

MAN: Yeah.

LIZ JACKSON: Oh, we're, we're happy to wait, we'll just wait then.

MAN: No, no, I talk Mr Rogerio, Mr Rogerio no talk.

LIZ JACKSON: What, you spoke with him?

MAN: Yeah.

LIZ JACKSON: So, he's not asleep?

LIZ JACKSON: We're not getting anywhere, so decide instead to call the head of the Board of Police, Antonio de Cruz. According to the document we got from Rai Los, he was actually the person who gave him the guns, at 10pm at night in a cemetery at Lauhata. We track him down in the border town of Maliana.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: This is Antonio da Cruz speaking.

LIZ JACKSON: This is Antonio da Cruz speaking? Good morning, sir.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: Good morning, madam!

LIZ JACKSON: Good morning.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: How are you?

LIZ JACKSON: I am very good. My name is Liz Jackson from ABC TV.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: Oh, ABC TV , yes! I am the National Commander of the Border Patrol Unit.

LIZ JACKSON: Good to speak with you, sir. Commander Rai Los says that on the 8th of May, you were at the Lauhata cemetery, near Liquica, and that you gave him 10 AK weapons, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: Ah, yes, ah, you, you already confirmed this information from who?

LIZ JACKSON: Commander Rai Los.


LIZ JACKSON: And it's true?

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: Yes, it's true.

LIZ JACKSON: It's true.

LIZ JACKSON: Who told you to give those guns and ammunition to Commander Rai Los?

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: This is from, from, our... I'm receiving an order from the our Interior Minister.

LIZ JACKSON: Rogerio Lobato, the Interior Minister, told you to give, told you to give Commander Rai Los the guns and the ammunition, yes?


LIZ JACKSON: Do you know for what purpose?

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: I don't know, I don't know, I don't know exactly what, what kind is, he is thinking about that, but I'm the one of the member of the police in Timor-Leste, and I'm the responsibility for the Border Patrol Unit and refer the order to the question our long guns to the ...this matter directly to the our minister and our minister say that he has to give this for the Commander Rai Los and I am just doing...

LIZ JACKSON: Just following orders?


LIZ JACKSON: Do you know if the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri gave those orders to the Interior Minster, do you know if Mari Alkatiri knew that you were giving weapons to Commander Rai Los.

ANTONIO DA CRUZ: Ah, I'm not sure and I'm never listened together with the our Prime Minister, 'cause I'm the...just member for the national police.

LIZ JACKSON: Rogerio Lobato's security guard has appeared, so it's time to wind up. But Antonio da Cruz tells us he'll fax us the dispatch records he prepared that list the serial numbers of all the weapons, and to whom they were sent. Two pages arrive. The first page shows 15 HK33 weapons dispatched to His Excellency, the Minister of the Interior on the 8th of May, 2006. The second, a further eight guns dispatched to the minister on the 21st of May. We check the serial numbers of this list of weapons against the serial numbers we got from Rai Los. 15 out of the 16 of Rai Los's guns are listed here. The two we filmed in Liquica were in the first dispatch. We put this to Jose Ramos Horta.

LIZ JACKSON: What does it suggest to you that the head of the border police is asked to give weapons to the Minster of the Interior which end up in an armed civilian group?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Well, obviously, that is an... a very grave, ah, breach, a very grave offence. It would be understandable if the Interior Minister order the weapons away from a sensitive area to be locked away. But when the weapons are returned to him and, ah, re-assign them to, ah, civilians, that is an absolutely grave matter. I'm not saying that this is a fact but if this is what happened, is a very grave matter.

LIZ JACKSON: Arming civilians is a serious offence, yes?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: Of course. I'm aware myself.

LIZ JACKSON: A sacking offence?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: Mmm. Arming a civilian is against the whole policy of this government.

LIZ JACKSON: And it would be a sacking offence?


LIZ JACKSON: The Prime Minister has already told us that he believes no civilians were armed by his government but just as we're leaving, we get information that suggests this isn't true. We've driven up into the hills behind Dili to Police Commissioner Paulo Martins' house. After the attacks on police, it was no longer safe for him in Dili, and here he has armed protection. We want to show the Commissioner a handwritten letter that we believe he wrote to the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, dated 19 May.

LIZ JACKSON: Sir, we have come to see you because we want to be absolutely sure that this is the letter... you wrote to the Prime Minister.


LIZ JACKSON: The letter informs the Prime Minister of an urgent matter, that on 8 May, the Commissioner of Police for Suai saw a person by the name of Arakat, and eight of his colleagues, with HK33 weapons that belonged to the border police. Arakat is a senior member of Commander Rai Los' group.

LIZ JACKSON: So in your letter to the Prime Minister, you told him that the weapons had gone to a member of Commander Rai Los' group?

PAULO MARTINS, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PNTL: I told this letter is a...a members of the name Arakat.



LIZ JACKSON: A member of Commander Rai Los' group?


LIZ JACKSON: The letter goes on to state that Arakat's weapons were, "the 17 weapons that had been handed over to the Minister of the Interior". It concludes, "If this was done with the knowledge of Your Excellency, I will not do anything to the contrary. But the population is panicking, and if these measures continue, there will not be a way to put an end to the current problems." Paulo Martins did not give the letter directly to the Prime Minister in person.

PAULO MARTINS, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PNTL: No, I give to through the secretary of the Prime Minister, Dr Guterres.

LIZ JACKSON: And what did you say to Dr Guterres about this letter?

PAULO MARTINS, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PNTL: I tell him that the letter is very top secret and he will have to deliver the letter when the Prime Minister stay alone.

LIZ JACKSON: When he's by himself?


LIZ JACKSON: Three days later, the Commissioner of Police asked to see Mari Alkatiri.

PAULO MARTINS, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PNTL: Ah, on 21 May, in the morning, I called the Prime Minister that I have a meeting with the Minister of Interior. And after that meeting, I will, um... if I have possibility to have a meeting with the Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister tell me that, "You can come to see me, but don't speak about the weapon."

LIZ JACKSON: He directly asked you not to talk to him about these weapons that you'd drawn his attention to?


LIZ JACKSON: So as far as you know, nothing was ever done after you sent the letter?


LIZ JACKSON: The Prime Minister definitely knew?


LIZ JACKSON: If the Prime Minister had just an awareness that a group of people were being armed, Fretilin group of people were being armed, to ensure security, is that serious?

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Of course, that alone is serious. You know, we have enough police in this country. Now why having, you know, thousands of police that have more weapons than the army and we still need to arm civilians? And, this is just mind-boggling. I just don't understand why, ah... if these were the fact, why he would condone it why, being who he is - Prime Minister but a very legal-minded person - he would not stop it right away.

LIZ JACKSON: We went back to the Prime Minister, seeking his response to these further allegations, but we've had no reply. We can only assume he'll give the same response as before, that all the allegations about him are just slurs by his political rivals both inside and outside the Cabinet room.

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: The situation here in this country now is a very complex you know.

LIZ JACKSON: And will you be investigating your former interior minister?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: They...I'm open for... I told already today the international community, the United Nations to come and to investigate...everything.

LIZ JACKSON: If it were true, would you stand down?

DR MARI ALKATIRI, PRIME MINISTER: This is always your target this, how...stand down or step down or not. I've made it clear that I will never step down.

DR JOSE RAMOS HORTA, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Even if I feel in my conscience that I am innocent, even if or... in my conscience as well, you know, these allegations are not all 100 per cent true but are 10 per cent true, I would have stepped down, you know? My own honour, my own dignity, my own pride would not, keep me, you know, in office.

LIZ JACKSON: While the political games and the power plays continue, those with no power have just modest demands. Beatrice de Jesus lost her husband Santiago in the slaughter of the unarmed police on the road to the UN compound. She wants to know who was responsible. Who ordered the troops, or were they civilians, to open fire? She's hoping for justice, but just a sign that someone cared would help.

BEATRICE DO REGO DE JESUS: (TRANSLATION): No-one has come to see us about his death. Since his death, no-one from his force came to see us. Not even his commanders have come. We called to ask them if we can have his body back, but we've been told that we cannot remove his body until further notice.

[End of Transcript]


You can view some of the confidential documents that Liz Jackson tracked down during her investigation in East Timor, and referred to in her report. 

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