Subject: ETimor president attends Easter mass in first outing

also ETimor president attends Easter mass in first outing ETimor president attends Easter mass in first outing

Sun Mar 23, 2:53 AM ET

SYDNEY (AFP) - East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta attended Easter Mass in the north Australian city of Darwin on Sunday in his first outing since leaving hospital after surviving an assassination attempt.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner was critically injured in a shoot-out with rebels at his Dili home on February 11 and shortly afterwards airlifted to Royal Darwin Hospital for treatment. He was discharged from hospital last week.

"I made a point in coming to the cathedral today, and to thank the people of Australia, the people of Darwin and thank God for saving my life," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ramos-Horta, 58, last week fought back tears as he thanked medical staff for helping him through the ordeal which saw him undergo six operations and spend 10 days in a medically-induced coma.

At the time, he gave hospital manager Len Notaras a picture of Pope Benedict XVI, saying the pontiff had prayed for him after he was shot. Notaras replied that the Vatican had phoned after he arrived to inquire about his condition.

Ramos-Horta will stay in Australia for several more weeks for follow-up treatment but has assured East Timorese he will return home soon.


The Age

Ramos Horta goes to church to give thanks

Lindsay Murdoch

March 24, 2008

EAST Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta went to church yesterday, his first public outing since being shot and seriously wounded, and thanked God for saving his life.

The visit to Darwin's St Mary's Catholic Cathedral came as Gastao Salsinha, one of the rebel leaders responsible for the attacks in Dili last month, negotiated his surrender to a church in East Timor's mountains.

Mr Ramos Horta said after the Easter Sunday service that he was pretty tired but well after being discharged from a Darwin hospital last week.

He said he wanted his first public outing to be to the cathedral, where he could thank the people of Australia, the people of Darwin and God for saving his life.

Accompanied by his mother, Natalina, 80, and other relatives, Mr Ramos Horta knelt and prayed in the church's front row and received Holy Communion. Worshippers later lined up to shake the hand of the Nobel laureate who was shot at his Dili home on February 11.

A Timorese army commander in East Timor's central mountains yesterday told The Age by telephone that Mr Salsinha had been negotiating his surrender to the Catholic Church in the town of Maubesi. Four of his men surrendered on Saturday.

Mr Salsinha has failed to show up after negotiating two previous surrenders. But East Timor leaders have insisted that Mr Salsinha, a former East Timor army lieutenant who led 600 sacked soldiers in 2006, should be given every opportunity to surrender so he can testify about who was behind the February 11 attacks.

Urging hundreds of soldiers and police who are hunting Mr Salsinha to help facilitate the surrender, the country's acting president, Fernando Lasama, was quoted as saying it would be in the interests of some people if Mr Salsinha died, as he would also bury with him all the information he had.

Mr Salsinha led an attack on Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unharmed.

Alfredo Reinado, who led a group of rebels to Mr Ramos Horta's home, was shot dead.

Investigators believe that still unidentified figures were behind the attacks, which plunged the country into a new crisis. They have traced money given to the rebels to a bank account in Dili.

Mr Ramos Horta is not expected to be strong enough to return to Dili for several weeks.

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