quarta-feira, agosto 13, 2008

Autopsy doubt on East Timor rebels

The Australian, 13 August
Paul Toohey

QUESTIONS have been raised as to whether rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was lured down from the mountains of East Timor to be executed after it emerged he was shot dead at almost point-blank range inside the home of President Jose Ramos Horta.

The Australian has obtained the autopsy reports for Reinado and fellow rebel Leopoldino Exposto, who died at Reinado's side.

Exposto was shot once in the direct centre of the back of his head at "close range", typical of an execution-style killing. The skin around Reinado's four entry wounds - to the eye, the neck, the chest and the hand - all featured significant burning and blackening.

David Ranson, of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, said it was well-established across the forensic world that gunshot wounds that featured burning and blackening came from rifles discharged at point-blank or "near-contact" range: less than 30cm.

"Blackening is a critical issue to gunshot wounds," Professor Ranson said. "The ballistic textbooks are very clear on this. Burning and blackening is a feature of very close-range shots, probably from less than a foot away. If you see burning and soot-type burning, it indicates that the barrel of the gun was very close to the skin's surface."

Burning comes from close-range muzzle flash. The blackening, or tattooing, comes from gunpowder.

The public version to date is that Reinado, a 42-year-old Australian-trained major who had led a year-long mutiny, and Exposto were caught unaware as they entered the presidential compound on February 11 and were shot by a guard from a distance of at least 10 to 15 meters away.

Mr Ramos Horta suffered gunshot wounds when he was caught in gunfire as he returned to the compound from his morning walk, and one of his guards was killed. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped a separate attack on his convoy as it took him from his home to his office.

But the official version of events has been clouded by the findings of forensic pathologist Muhammad Nurul Islam, who conducted the autopsies. He writes that Exposto and Reinado were killed "at close range" with a high-velocity rifle.

Dr Nurul notes that all Reinado's wounds featured "blackening/burning" especially so in his left eye, where the discoloration covers an unusually sizeable 10cm x 9cm area, which could indicate a point-blank shot.

Despite some reports that Reinado was either drunk or on drugs, Dr Nurul said there were no toxicological testing facilities at the Dili morgue and that question would never be answered.

Mr Ramos Horta has maintained Reinado was an uninvited guest that day and this was an act of aggression.

What is certain is that the events inside the villa that morning are not as clear as previously presented, and may have involved Reinado and Exposto either walking into a trap or being held at close quarters before being shot.

One of Reinado's wounds was to his left hand, suggesting he may have raised it in a defensive gesture knowing he was about to be shot.

The close-range shooting opinion is strongly reinforced by the burning and blackening that appeared on Reinado's chest wound, despite the fact he was shot through a thick ammunition vest.

Reinado and Exposto were shot with a high-powered AR-15 semi-automatic Armalite weapon, or weapons, as issued to the presidential guard.

Accounts from inside Dili jail from Reinado's rebels, obtained by The Australian, have it that Reinado went to Dili for an early-morning appointment with the President.

Reinado's men maintain they had no plan to attack the President but their interviews are riddled with inconsistencies.

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Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.