Subject: SMH: Ramos Horta Criticized Australia For Delays At Skeleton Test

via Joyo News

The Sydney Morning Herald

Friday, March 12, 2010

Anger at skeleton test delays

Lindsay Murdoch

THE President of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, has criticised Australian authorities for taking five years to DNA-test a headless skeleton believed to be that of his country's hero Nicolau Lobato.

"It is puzzling to me and embarrassing to Australia that the remains sat forgotten for so long and nobody did anything about it," Dr Ramos- Horta said.

He said the bones sent to the Northern Territory police forensic centre in 2004 "could well be" those of Lobato, East Timor's first prime minister, who was killed by Indonesian soldiers in 1978.

The remains were dug up in the grounds of the home of East Timor's then prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, in December 2003. At the time of Lobato's death, the house was occupied by Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, the Indonesian army chief in Dili.

After the Herald revealed in December the bones had sat for years in a Darwin laboratory, a Northern Territory police spokeswoman said they would soon undergo testing using new methods for extracting DNA.

But a police superintendent, Jo Foley, said yesterday many factors had delayed testing. One was that the samples were male, and the testing was likely to require a DNA sample from a female family member. If the bones are confirmed to be his, Lobato would be given a state funeral.

Speaking in the Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace, Dr Ramos-Horta said the belief the bones were those of Lobato had been fuelled because the head was missing. "Following a macabre ... practice [by the] Indonesian military, his head was cut off and taken to Indonesia and put on display while the body was unceremoniously dumped somewhere."

Kalbuadi, who was involved in the 1975 attack on Australian newsmen known as the Balibo Five, never revealed publicly what happened to Lobato's body.

A police spokeswoman said yesterday the remains will be transferred to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne for further testing.

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