Subject: Expresso: Judge Ivo Rosa moved aside
Translation from Portuguese of article By MICAEL PEREIRA in "Expresso"
30 November 2008
"Ivo Rosa declared illegal part of the government budget.
The PM did not like it and so had him set aside."
This issue was not a theme for the two day visit by Xanana Gusmao to Portugal this week, which the Timorese Prime Minister took advantage of to put across an image of political stability in his country in order to obtain lines of credit with the Portuguese banks, but the crisis between the constitutional bodies is entrenched in Dili and runs the risk of deepening.
Two weeks after having been sent for publication in the "Jornal o Republica" (the equivalent of our "Daily of the Republic"), the controversial ruling of the Timorese Court of Appeal which declares illegal one third of the State Budget for 2008 still has not seen the light of day, which under normal circumstances should have already occurred two weeks ago.
Judicial sources in Dili assure us that the decision is being politically blocked by the Government, which is arousing strong criticisms from the opposition and non-governmental organizations. In practice, until it is published, Xanana Gusmao's does not have to comply with the decision, as it does not yet have official knowledge of it.
The court decision which prohibits the Government from spending an extra transfer of US$240 million from the Timorese Petroleum Fund, because they did not comply with the law, was written by a Portuguese judge, who has in the meantime been moved aside by the Superior Council for the Judiciary (SCJ), which is currently headed by the secretary general of Xanana Gusmao's party (CNRT).
The non-renewal of the judge Ivo Rosa's contract was decided on the very day he sent the decision for publication.
Ivo Rosa had taken over the role of interim President of the Court of Appeal in August, since the Timorese Judge Caludio Ximnenes had come to Portugal for prolonged medical treatment. Ximenes accumulates the roles of President of the Court of Appeal and the Superior Council for the Judiciary.
Dionisio Babo, the secretary general of the CNRT and substitute President of the SCJ, admitted to Expresso that the moving aside of the Portuguese Judge was effected on the day the notification of the decision regarding the budget, the 13th of November, without it being an item of business on the agenda and without it being known by Claudio Ximenes, but justified it as being a legitimate decision.
"I am not putting in cause the judges competence, but it was proposed by two councilors and that despite controversy was voted by unanimity," confessed the head of the Superior Council for the Judiciary. "It is a normal thing, on previous occasions we had decided not to renew the contract of other international judges. I do not mix politics with the judiciary." Babo also holds the position of advisor in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres.
As the one who was responsible for judging the soldiers implicated in the deaths of eight police during the 2006 crisis and who issued the warrants for the capture the rebel Alfredo Reinado (against the strategy adopted by Ramos-Horta and Xanana Gusmao), the Portuguese Judge became a discomforting figure in Timor.
The fragility of the judicial system in the country has been one of the most widely criticized points in international reports regarding the country's situation, from the time the UN commission of inquiry investigating the 2006 political-military crisis recommended that all those responsible for the crisis should be called to face justice.
At this time, not even the investigations into the attempts on the President of the Republic (who was gravely wounded), and on the Prime Minister in February last have been concluded. After nine months, and despite the Australian Police and the FBI having contributed with an exhaustive investigation of the incidents, the Prosecutor General has still not said anything regarding what really occurred.
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