Subject: AFP: East Timor asks for outside help to monitor ill ex-minister


East Timor asks for outside help to monitor ill ex-minister



EAST TIMOR asked Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia for help monitoring a jailed former minister who was permitted to travel to Kuala Lumpur for medical treatment, the justice minister said yesterday.

Rogerio Lobato, a senior member of the former ruling party Fretilin, was imprisoned for distributing weapons to civilians during turmoil last year in East Timor that left 37 people dead.

But he flew to Malaysia via Indonesia and Singapore on Thursday for medical treatment after a day-long stand-off with the new government, which feared it would be criticised for allowing him to leave on its first day in office.

"Through our attorney-general... we asked Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to coordinate in monitoring Lobato's travels on his chartered flight" through Indonesia's Bali and Singapore, justice minister Lucia Lobato said.

"We made contact with all (the countries) to prevent the convict from escaping," Lobato, who is a cousin of the former home affairs minister, told reporters.

The justice minister also said Fretilin had paid some US$30,000 ($45,327) to Lobato, the most senior government member jailed over last year's unrest, to cover the costs of the treatment, a move she described as "regretful".

The new government of Xanana Gusmao was sworn in on Wednesday, triggering sporadic violence in Dili and other East Timorese towns by youths sympathetic to Fretilin, which insists the administration is illegal.

Fretilin won the most votes in June elections.

However, it did not garner the majority required to govern, while Gusmao's party formed a coalition holding 37 of 65 parliament seats in the wake of the polls. President Jose Ramos-Horta used his constitutional authority to rule that Gusmao's coalition should be installed.

Lobato, who founded a guerrilla army that fought Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor which lasted until 1999, is suffering from liver, heart and kidney problems, although his precise ailments are unknown.

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