Subject: Angelita Pires found not guilty, 24 others convicted in Ramos-Horta, Xanana attacks


East Timor convicts 24 rebels over murder plots,

Angelita Pires cleared of plot to assassinate East Timor leaders

Angelita Pires found not guilty of conspiring to kill Jose Ramos Horta

Mark Dodd

From: <> The Australian

March 03, 2010 7:02PM <>I ANGELITA Pires "schemed" against East Timor's leaders but a court today found her not guilty of attempting to kill President Jose Ramos Horta.

A three-judge panel found the Australian-Timorese woman not guilty of conspiring to assassinate President Horta or acting in concert to assassinate him.

"It was proved that Angelita Pires had schemed against the president and the prime minister but it was not proved she had intended to kill the president,'' the presiding judge said.

Pires, 43, is the former lover of Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead during a 2008 assassination attempt on Mr Horta.

Pires pleaded not guilty to some 21 charges related to the assassination attempt. She is represented by prominent Darwin lawyer John Tippett QC.

The circumstances of the assassination plot remain clouded in mystery although Mr Horta claims Pires exerted a strong influence over Reinado, who was fatally shot by a bodyguard after entering the president's compound on the morning of February 11, 2008.

Mr Horta was himself shot by a Reinado accomplice but survived despite two near fatal bullet wounds.


East Timor convicts 24 rebels over murder plots

By GUIDO GOULART (AP) ­ 2 hours ago

DILI, East Timor ­ A court in East Timor convicted and sentenced 24 rebels Wednesday to up to 16 years in prison over the attempted assassinations of the fledgling democracy's president and prime minister.

Another four defendants were acquitted following a seven-month trial on charges of conspiracy and attempted murder that ended last month.

President Jose Ramos-Horta nearly died of gunshot wounds received in an attack in his Dili compound on Feb. 11, 2008, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao narrowly escaped unharmed from an ambush of his motorcade later that day.

The defendants were mostly former soldiers and police who became rebels and fugitives after factional rivalries within East Timor's security forces erupted into violence in 2006, killing dozens and toppling the then government.

Angelita Pires, the only female defendant, was among those acquitted. The Australian-East Timorese citizen was the lover of rebel leader Maj. Alfredo Reinado, who was fatally shot by the president's guards during the first attack.

Pires said she was relieved to be exonerated.

"My life has been on hold for over two years and it has been an enormously stressful and emotional time for me and for my loved ones," she told reporters.

Lt. Gastao Salsinha, who replaced Reinado as leader and commanded the failed attack on Gusmao, was sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison.

The gunman who shot Ramos-Horta, Marcelo Caetano, was sentenced to 16 years. The shortest sentence was nine years and four months.

Damien Kingsbury, professor of international studies at Deakin University in Australia, said the trial was the greatest test of East Timor's judiciary since the nation split from Indonesia in 1999 and achieved formal independence in 2002.

"The judiciary is under a great deal of scrutiny at the moment and this is easily the single most important case to have ever gone before it," Kingsbury said.

East Timor is a former Portuguese colony that was brutally occupied by Indonesia for 24 years until it broke away through a United Nations brokered independence ballot in 1999. Pro-Jakarta militia responded to the vote with a bloody rampage and razed most of the half-island nation's buildings and infrastructure.


Angelita Pires cleared of plot to assassinate East Timor leaders

* By Adam Gartrell * From: AAP * March 03, 2010 9:45PM * Pires had faced a 20-year sentence * She was rebel leader's former lover * Jail for 23 people who took part in attack

ANGELITA Pires has been cleared of the attempted assassination of East Timor's President and Prime minister.

Twenty rebels, however, were jailed with various sentences for the 2008 gun attack.

"Today is the most important day of my life. I have rightfully regained my freedom," Angelita Pires said outside the court after judges dismissed the prosecutors' argument that she was a key player in the plot.

"I'd like to say that I have learned that liberty is one of the most important things an individual can possess," added Pires, who faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Pires, an East Timor-born Australian, was tried for seven months together with 27 rebels over the February 2008 attacks on President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Of the other defendants, 23 were sentenced to jail terms ranging from nine to 16 years. There was no immediate word on the remaining four.

Gunmen shot at Ramos-Horta outside his Dili home, leaving him seriously wounded, and also fired on the car of Gusmao, who escaped unhurt.

Pires's boyfriend, rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, was shot dead by the president's guards during the attack and his followers subsequently surrendered.

The death of the charismatic Reinado, coupled with public distress over Ramos-Horta's brush with death, helped bring an end to the rebellion.

Prosecutor Felismeno Cardoso said last month that Pires was pivotal to the plot as she made several trips to the northern Australian city of Darwin to raise funds for the rebels.

The other defendants included ex-soldiers from a group of 600 who deserted in 2006, triggering fighting that killed some 40 people and forced 100,000 from their homes in the former Indonesian territory.

East Timor won formal independence in 2002, three years after a UN-backed referendum that saw an overwhelming vote to break away from Indonesia following a 24-year occupation.

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