quarta-feira, agosto 13, 2008

Was East Timor rebel leader executed by presidential guard?

Times Online
August 13, 2008

Anne Barrowclough in Sydney

East Timorese rebel leader Alfredo Reinado and his chief lieutenant may have been executed after the assassination attempt on President Jose Ramos Horta in February, an autopsy report suggests.

The autopsy on Reinado and his fellow rebel Leopoldino Exposto, who were shot dead at President Horta's home, indicates that the men were shot at point blank range according to The Australian newspaper which has obtained a copy of the report.

Reinado, an Australian trained major who has waged a year long mutiny against Mr Ramos Horta's government, was shot in the eye, neck, chest and head. The entry wounds show burning and blackening that is indicative of weapons fired at point black range, said experts. Exposto was shot in the back of the head at "close range", typical of an execution style killing, said the autopsy.

Officially, the two rebels were caught unawares inside the President's compound on February 11 and were killed in a gun battle with palace guards after the assassination attempt on Mr Ramos Horta. Mr Ramos Horta was shot and his guard killed after being caught in gunfire after returning from his morning walk to the beachside compound in East Timor's capital Dili. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped injury in a separate attack on his convoy as it took him to his office.

The official version of events, however, has been thrown into doubt by the autopsy report, carried out by forensic pathologist Muhammed Nurual Islam. The report states that all Reinado's wounds featured "blackening/burning" especially in his left eye, where the size of the discolouration was so large that it could indicate a point blank shot.

Both men were shot with a high powered AR-15 semi-automatic Armalite weapon, with which the presidential guard was issued, reported The Australian.

A forensic expert told the newspaper that it was "well-established" in the forensics world that burning and blackening was a feature of guns being fired at point blank range.

"Blackening is a critical issue to gunshot wounds," he said. "If you see soot-type burning it indicates the barrel of the gun was very close to the skin's surface."

Questions have now been raised as to whether the rebels were lured from their mountain hideout to their deaths.

Mr Ramos Horta was elected last year as East Timor's second president since the country achieved independence in 2002. He narrowly survived the assassination attempt but has indicated that he might not complete his four year term.

Rebelde que tentou assassinar Ramos Horta pode ter sido executado

13/08/08 - 02h09 - Atualizado em 13/08/08 - 02h15


Sydney (Austrália), 13 ago (EFE).- O ex-líder rebelde timorense Alfredo Reinado pode ter sido executado durante o tiroteio que se seguiu à sua tentativa frustrada de assassinar o presidente José Ramos Horta, em fevereiro, segundo revelou a autópsia de seu cadáver.

Reinado foi atingido à queima-roupa e na nuca, local que teria sido muito difícil de alcançar em um tiroteio, informou hoje o diário "The Australian".

Caso se confirme, o assassinato do líder rebelde pode gerar novas tensões no Timor-Leste, que desde que obteve a independência, em 2002, luta para conseguir estabilidade política, que lhe permita concentrar-se no desenvolvimento econômico.

Segundo os médicos australianos que praticaram a autópsia, é impossível que as marcas de bala no cadáver de Reinado tenham sido causadas por disparos de soldados a mais de dez metros de distância, como afirma a versão oficial.

Os fatos ainda estão sendo investigados pela Procuradoria Geral do Timor-Leste e por um comitê especial das Nações Unidas.

Em 11 de fevereiro, Ramos Horta ficou gravemente ferido em um atentado perpetrado em seu domicílio e no qual também perdeu a vida Reinado. O primeiro-ministro Xanana Gusmão também foi vítima de um ataque, mas saiu ileso.

Alfredo Reinado liderou em 2006 uma revolta de 600 soldados demitidos por insubordinação do Exército, que gerou uma onda de violência que deixou 37 mortos e mais de 100 mil refugiados e forçou a renúncia do então chefe do Executivo Mari Alkatiri.

A ex-colônia portuguesa do Timor-Leste alcançou a independência há seis anos, como uma das nações mais pobres do mundo, e após uma sangrenta transição, que acabou, em 1999, com quase um quarto de século de ocupação indonésia. EFE

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.

Rice and Circus in East Timor

August 11, 2008
Who Eats What?


Since coming to power in September 2007, the new Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) government of East Timor has made rice a central instrument of state policy. The government has spent millions of dollars on the purchase of imported rice. Free rice has been distributed to civil servants, a constituency recruited under the previous Fretilin government and hence of questionable loyalty. Free rice is part of the incentive offered to encourage the tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) to vacate the camps and return to their places of residence. Subsidized rice is being sold to the populace at large. Lacking a distribution mechanism, the government has also granted the right to sell this subsidized rice to selected veterans, who represent another politically sensitive group.

Intended to address East Timor’s chronic food insecurity, these side-payments, triggered a host of accusations and scandals. There are widespread allegations that government rice contracts were granted without proper tendering processes and involved collusion. The opposition Fretilin bench in parliament questioned the wisdom of providing free rice to civil servants, arguing this would place an additional strain on markets. The sale of subsidized rice has raised questions about overall government expenditures, inflation, and the impact on domestic food production. The sale of subsidized rice via selected veterans has led to charges of profiteering, prompting Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão to instruct the police to seize subsidized rice sold above the set price of $16 for a 38 kilogram sack.

In the face of these allegations, on 9 July Prime Minister Gusmão held a press conference presenting “the facts” about food security and a blistering attack on his critics. But while the political opposition and media have focused on symptoms, the real story lies elsewhere. This article traces the politics of the Gusmão government rice contracts from September 2007 until the present.

Transitional budget rice contracts

The transitional budget passed by the new AMP controlled parliament to cover the period from July-December 2007 included $6,088,000 for food security. How was this money spent? Government contracts for the import of rice can be divided into three categories: (1) rice to be distributed to civil servants; (2) rice for IDPs; and (3) rice for national reserves and/or for sale to the public.

The first piece of legislation passed by the government in September 2007 was a bill to distribute 30 kilograms of rice per month to each of the 16,969 public servants for a period of six months. To this end, in late 2007 the government signed a contract with Oriental Food, a company headed by Germano da Silva. With no prior experience importing rice, Oriental Food turned to a company called Nabilan Food, owned by Singaporean Gerry Kou. A January 2008 news article reported that Oriental and Nabilan had imported 2,790 and 490 metric tons of rice respectively for provision to civil servants. One informant in Dili suggested that the contract awarded to Oriental Food was actually only for 2,000 metric tons of rice at a price of about $420 per ton. Although the exact tonnage and value of the contract are not known, based on the lower figure of 2,000 metric tons at an estimated price of $420 per metric ton, this contract would be worth $840,000.

The government also faced the ongoing problem of providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs. Much of this assistance came from international agencies, led by the World Food Programme. However, the government also sought to secure rice for this purpose. According to sources the government granted a contract to the Timor Food Company, owned by Mr. Jong Fu Kong (alias James Jong and Jaime dos Santos). It has not been possible to obtain specific information about either the total volume of rice or the price for this contract. However, according to informants in late March 2008 Timor Food received a shipment of 4,000 metric tons of rice, approximately half of which was to fill the government contract for humanitarian assistance and the other half for sale on the open market. Again assuming a contract for 2,000 metric tons of rice and a price between US$400-450 per ton, the Timor Food contract would have also been worth about $840,000.

The third category of contracts was for the purchase of rice for national reserves and/or the sale of subsidized rice to the public. Granted without an open tender process, three contracts were signed in November 2007. Star King, headed by Lay Siu Hing, is reported to have been awarded a contract for 3,615 tons of rice at a price of about $400 per ton. People Food Company, headed by Julio Alfaro and Kathleen Gonçalves (the wife of Minister of Economics and Development João Gonçalves) is reported to have received a contract for 4,000 tons at a price just over $400 per ton. Gerry Kou’s Nabilan Food is reported to have received a contract for 3,000 metric tons at a price of $420 per ton. Taken together, these contracts are for an estimated 10,600 metric tons of rice at an average price of $420 per ton, bringing the total value of the three contracts to $4,452,000.

The estimated value of all three categories of contract – rice for civil servants, rice for IDPs, and rice for national reserves and sale -- comes to $6,132,000, a figure that is extremely close to the budget line of $6,088,000 allocated for rice. But cronyism and ersatz importers were only the beginning.

The 2008 rice contracts

In the national budget for the 2008 calendar year, the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Industry is allocated $4,864,000 for food security goods and services. With national food security reserves running low, on 29 January Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry Gil Alves invited rice importers to a meeting. The following day a second meeting, attended by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, was held with both rice and cement importers to announce that the government sought bids for the import of 16,000 metric tons of rice. In the wake of these meetings, Germano da Silva of the Três Amigos company, an apparent new-comer to the rice business, submitted a bid to the government to supply rice at a price of $510 per metric ton. The two other “amigos” were Kathleen Gonçalves (director of the Peoplconstruction business, which includes the import of cement, during the Indonesian occupation). e Food Company), and Indonesian businessman Frans Holiwono (who had built his During the rice tender meeting, Da Silva and Holiwono convinced the government that only Três Amigos had the capacity to store the large amount of rice required. According to Prime Minister Gusmão’s account:

The Government decided to accept this bid on three deciding factors: 1) The market search by way of the meetings held with the suppliers of rice indicated lack of ability to import; 2) the bid from Mr. Da Silva was reasonable, represented value for money and offered favourable payment conditions, 3) the country’s need for rice stocks was becoming an urgent issue.

As a consequence on February 29th the Government signed a contract with the Três Amigos Company regarding the purchase of 8,000 tons of rice, at a price of US$510.00 per ton, totaling US$4,080 million (Attachment 3). The balance of 8.000 tons would be bought at the contractor’s risk and paid only after the mid year review (MYR) budget.

The government purchase order, which was leaked, contains several curious features. First, the original quantity of rice has been crossed out, the figure of 10,000 tons has been written in by hand, and this figure has also been crossed out and replaced by a total order for 8,000 tons. Second, although various sources including the UN have stated that this order was supposed to be delivered between April and June, the delivery date on the contract is for the period between 30 June and 30 August 2008. Third, despite the fact that the purchase of rice for food security falls under the budget of the Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, this purchase order was signed by Prime Minister Gusmão.

Sometime in April, according to the Prime Minister’s account, “the contracting company was informed by the Vietnamese supplier that it could no longer supply rice at the price of US$510 as previously agreed. The supplier requested a new price of $800 at origin, with the Três Amigos Company adding US$100 more for transportation costs (adjustments considering rising fuel prices), insurance, operational costs and profit. Therefore the price for the government became US$900 per ton. (Attachment 4)” Concerned about soaring international rice prices, on 7 May the government amended the original 29 February Três Amigos rice contract, increasing the tonnage from 8,000 to 16,000 tons and the price from $510 to $900 per ton with delivery to be made by 30 June 2008. This amended contract worth $14.4 million is signed by Germano da Silva and Prime Minister Gusmão.

Reassessing Gusmão’s “facts”

What actually happened during the 68 days between the time the first contract was signed on 29 February and the amended contract was signed on 7 May? The only experience Germano da Silva and Kathleen Gonçalves had importing rice was a few months before when each had received a contract under the transitional budget; they had filled those orders by sub-contracting to others who knew the business. In 2008 Três Amigos again turned to the experienced Gerry Kou of Nabilan Food. The next step was for the parties involved to visit the supplier in Vietnam. During the third week of March a delegation consisting of Germano da Silva, Frans Holiwono, and Minister of Tourism, Commerce, and Industry Gil Alves (and , presumably, Gerry Kou) traveled to Vietnam to meet with a supplier. In late March the supplier and Três Amigos/Nabilan Food agreed to a contract for 8,000 tons of rice at a price of $430 per ton.

Several sources noted that after insurance, transport, stevedoring, and other operational costs, this left a profit of $30 per ton. When the shipment was due to depart from Vietnam, however, the supplier is reported to have informed Três Amigos that it could only provide 2,700 metric tons of rice and that an additional $50 per metric ton would have to be added. Três Amigos, it seemed, would take a loss on the contract.

Then something strange happened. On 7 May, the government of Timor-Leste amended the Três Amigos rice contract: the original price of $510 per ton was changed to $900 per ton and the total tonnage was doubled from 8,000 to 16,000.

This led to heated charges of corruption. But where? One key lies in the date of arrival for the first shipment of 2,700 tons of rice. On 16 April, Timor Post reported that 8,000 tons of rice ordered by People Food (German da Silva’s own company, not Três Amigos) would arrive at the end of the month. On 14 May, the Suara Timor Lorosae daily reported that the ships carrying the rice for the government contract were on the way to East Timor. On the same day, however, the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste held a press conference at which Acting Senior Representative of the Secretary General Finn Reske-Nielsen stated: “Currently there are 7,500 tonnes of rice in stock in Timor-Leste and a further 16,000 tonnes are being imported. 2,500 tonnes [sic, 2,700] have arrived from Vietnam and a further 2,500 tonnes are expected this week. The remainder is due in the near future.” So had some of the rice already arrived in Timor or not?

On 24 July I walked across the street from Landmark Plaza to an unmarked lot strewn with old construction equipment and asked if Gerry Kou of Nabilan Food was there. He was away in Singapore. Employees explained that the rice in the warehouse is only a fraction of what was purchased; the warehouse had been absolutely full. They said that this rice was “for the government contract.” When I commented on the size of the warehouse, the employees said that the warehouse is one of the reasons Germano da Silva had used Nabilan Food to fill his contract with the government. They said about 3,000 metric tons of rice had arrived several months ago.
So the first shipment of 2,700 tons had arrived. Given the UN statement about the arrival of rice before 14 May and shipping time from Vietnam to Dili (10-11 days), this shipment had to have departed from Vietnam before the government amended the Três Amigos contract on 7 May.

But this raises more puzzling questions. First, was the first ship from Vietnam carrying 2,700 tons of rice sent on the understanding that after receiving an amended contract from the government of East Timor, Três Amigos would also agree to pay the supplier a higher price for this shipment? Or, as it appears, was this rice sold and sent at the price of $430 plus $50 reportedly agreed to in April? If that is the case, then the government was defrauded and/or culpable in corruption to the tune of $1 million for the first shipment alone.

A far worse scenario, supported by two well placed sources in Dili, is that the price from the supplier for the entire order of 16,000 tons was not in fact the $800 per ton reported to the government. Any difference between the actual price from the supplier and the $900 per ton (which provided the basis for the amended contract), is either fraud or corruption. If, as sources suggest, the actual price paid for the entire order of 16,000 tons was the original $435 per ton plus the additional $50 demanded by the supplier in Vietnam, and adding an additional $100 per ton for operating expenses and profit margin (which is what the government readily agreed to in the amended contract), then the actual cost to Três Amigos was $585. That would mean a “mark-up” of $315 per ton, which comes to a total of $5,040,000 for the contract.


East Timor’s parliament recently concluded debates concerning the amended budget proposed by Prime Minister Gusmão that calls for a 122% increase in the 2008 budget from the current total of $347.7 million to $773.8. This includes a modest $15,355,000 for food security, of which $11,867,000 is for goods and services. Serious attention to food security in East Timor is absolutely essential. However, it must be carried out with transparency, efficiency, and to serve the best interests of the East Timorese, a people who know hunger all too well. The possible loss of between $1 million and $5 million in a single contract for food security raises serious questions about the ability and even the willingness of the current government of East Timor to manage the enormous new budget now under debate. That discussion – and indeed all political discussions in Timor – should begin with and be based on one simple question: who eats what?

Douglas Kammen is Assistant Professor in the Southeast Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore. He would like to thank the many individuals (most of whom requested anonymity) who shared their time and provided information used in this article.

“Fos 3280 Toneladas Ba Funsionario To’o TL,” Suara Timor Lorosae, 19 January 2008.

He carries three passports – one from Timor-Leste, one from Australia, and a third from China (Macau?). In February 2007 Mr. dos Santos told the author that he is “Fretilin stand-by.”

An email dated 6 December 2007 that circulated widely reported that Germano da Silva, Kathleen Gonçalves, and Antonio Seisal were each granted contracts for 2,500,000 tons. This grossly inflated figure is presumably the result of the mistranslation of the Portuguese word “mil” meaning thousand. See “Politika Fahe Foos iha Governo AMP – Korrupsaun!! !,” sent by Tatoli, 6 December 2007.

See “Decreto n.o 3/II sobre o Orçamento Geral do Estado da República Democrática de Timor-Leste para 2008,” promulgated 29 December 2007, p. 28.

The following discussion draws on the account provided by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, “Press Conference: Food Security – The Facts,” dated 9 July 2008.

Information kindly provided by an AMP member of parliament, 27 July 2008.

“Press Conference: Food Security – The Facts,” p. 3.

República Democrática de Timor-Leste, Serviços de Aprovisionamento, Ordem do Compra/Purchase Order number 81586.

“Press Conference: Food Security – The Facts,” p. 3. $510 per ton was the price of the contract between the government and Três Amigos, not the price from the supplier, as Gusmão claims. The attachments cited were not in fact provided with the press release.

República Democrática de Timor-Leste, Ministério do Finanças, Servicão de Aprovisionamento, “Amendment to Contract RDTL – 81586, ‘The supply and warehousing of white rice’,” number 080508, dated 7 May 2008.

Frans Holiwono of BTK is said to have paid Gil Alves’ travel expenses.

República Democrática de Timor-Leste, Ministério do Finanças, “Amendment to Contract RDTL – 81586, ‘The supply and warehousing of white rice’,” number 080508, dated 7 May 2008.

“Presu Fos Sae: Governu Pronto Halo Prevensaun.” Timor Post, 16 April 2008. This article, based on an interview with the head of the food security department within the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, suggests that in mid-April the ministry still expected fulfillment of the total order for 8,000 tons.

See “Pemerintah Sediakan 4.000 Ton Beras,” Suara Timor Lorosae, 14 May 2008.

“UNMIT Press Conference – 14 May 2008 – Near Verbatim Transcript,” on east-timor@lists. riseup.net, dated 14 May 2008. Many of the “facts” presented in an accompanying WFP/FAO/UNMIT “Fact Sheet” (distributed by east-timor@lists. riseup.et , dated 14 may 2008) are incorrect. A source who requested anonymity was certain that the first shipment of 2,700 tons of rice had arrived in April or early May.

http://www.counterp unch.org/kammen08112008. html


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.