Subject: 28 charged over East Timor attacks
28 charged over East Timor attacks
Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin
March 4, 2009
AUTHORITIES in Dili have charged 28 people, including Timorese-born
Australian Angelita Pires, over last year's attacks on East Timor's top
two political leaders.
Prosecutors say they will ask a Dili court to jail 42-year-old Pires for
The former lover of slain rebel leader Alfredo Reinado will face 19 counts
of being the indirect author of attempted murder, including that of
President Jose Ramos Horta.
She is also charged with providing some kind of cigarette to Reinado days
before the attacks which made him "fearless".
Pires, who has been held in Dili for 12 months without charge, strongly
denies any wrongdoing.
The charges centre on claims that she influenced Reinado to stage the
attacks. Court documents allege she was overheard urging Reinado to kill
Mr Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Pires asked not to be quoted when she spoke with The Age from her home in
Most of those charged were members of Reinado's gang who were involved in
the attacks on February 11 last year, including his second-in-command,
Gastao Salsinha. All are charged with counts of being the indirect authors
of attempted murder.
In court documents, Marcelo Caetano is accused of shooting Mr Ramos Horta
twice in the back at his presidential villa on Dili's outskirts. Caetano,
a member of Reinado's gang, has repeatedly denied being the attacker.
Court documents allege that one of Mr Ramos Horta's security guards
identified Caetano as the attacker.
For months after the attacks, Caetano was hunted in East Timor's mountains
by hundreds of troops and police, including Australian SAS commandos.
But confusion has surrounded his role since he surrendered with other
rebels last April. In October, Mr Ramos Horta told The Age that Caetano
was not the man who shot him. Mr Ramos Horta said he found the man who
shot him in Dili's Becora jail last year. "He couldn't look me in the
eye," the President told The Age at the time.
Shortly before Christmas, Mr Ramos Horta met a small group of rebels in
the presence of Longuinhos Monteiro, East Timor's Prosecutor-General, who
led the investigation.
Mr Ramos Horta later told journalists he pleaded with his attacker to
confess "so that others who were with you but not directly involved
with the shooting of me are not penalised".
Strict secrecy has surrounded Mr Monteiro's investigation, which was
hampered by a reluctance of East Timor soldiers to fully co-operate and
contamination of crime scenes.
The weapons of soldiers who were guarding Mr Ramos Horta were not handed
over for Australian Federal Police ballistics tests until three weeks ago.
The results are not yet available.
Last month, Mr Monteiro told journalists in Dili that the results of
earlier ballistics tests in Australia did not "feel right".
Prosecutors raced to meet today's legal deadline to submit the cases to a
court. The trials of the accused are set to begin within weeks.
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