quinta-feira, setembro 04, 2008

East Timor: Who shot J R Horta?

By Simon Roughneen

Asia Times 4.9.08

DILI - East Timor's post-independence politics have confounded outside observers, and for the most part the Timorese themselves. Simultaneously transparent and opaque, what was thought to be a mono-cultural, impoverished, Western-backed, state-building poster-child has morphed into a divided half-island, with obscure tribal-linguistic rivalries once considered dormant since stirred by political rivalries and manifested in quasi-mysterious gangs.

The Timorese political elite remain at odds along familiar regime lines, demarcations so old that these rivalries were, broadly speaking, established when Richard Nixon was still in the White House and more sharply honed in the 1980s - when soap operaaddicts spent months wondering who shot J R Ewing, the fictional Texan oil mogul in Dallas.

But East Timor may now have its own Watergate, or at least a watershed political moment depending on which version of the events of February 11 finally emerges as the truth. That day, Dili's usual idyllic dawn was shattered by shots ringing out along the seaside valleys just a few miles east of the city, close to the white sand beaches favored by Timor's affluent expatriate community.

In what was regarded as either failed assassination attempts on President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, or perhaps instead a meeting-gone-awry between Ramos-Horta and former Timorese soldier Alfredo Reinado, the shoot-outs put the president in the hospital for two months and left rebel leader-cum-assassin Reinado in an early grave.

Reinado led the Petitioners, a group of disenchanted soldiers from the western half of the country who felt discriminated against by army top brass from the country's eastern regions. Prior to being dismissed from the armed services, he was pivotal in a chain of violent events in 2006 that led to over 100,000 Timorese being driven from their homes and the resignation of then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri. The army split, the police force disintegrated and Reinado took to the hills.

Some of Reinado's colleagues that fateful February morning have offered confusing and contradictory versions of what led up to the incident and what finally happened when their flamboyant front man died. Ramos-Horta himself has revised his initial recollection - that one of the rebels, Marcel Caetano, fired the bullets that almost killed him - after visiting the imprisoned would-be assassin in Dili's Becora jailhouse.

So who really shot Ramos-Horta and why? Considering the political machinations that preceded the shootings, it now seems unlikely it was Reinado who pulled the trigger. Ramos-Horta had repeatedly offered olive branches to the flashy rent-a-quote rebel, who had been dismissed by the Australian-led international forces and the ruling Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) coalition headed by Ramos-Horta's ally Gusmao, as a de facto criminal with no political status.

Another rumor doing the rounds was that, behind the scenes, Ramos-Horta had given up on the recalcitrant fugitive and that Reinado had set out in a huff for Dili to confront the president. That would have been suicidal unless it was followed by a coup attempt, hence the apparent simultaneous hit on Gusmao led by Gastinho Salsinha, Reinado's deputy. However, that too now seems unlikely given the lack of men and hardware at Reinado's disposal that morning.

In any case, Ramos-Horta survived, Reinado died, and the political fallout was until now minimal. That was until The Australian newspaper revealed it had reviewed the top-secret report drafted by Muhumad Nurul Islam, Timor's leading forensic pathologist, saying it indicated that Reinado and his sidekick Leopoldinho Exposto were shot at close or point-blank range in an execution style that does not tally with the prevailing shoot-out version of events - namely, that Reinado was taken out at a range of 10 meters or so by one of Ramos-Horta's snipers.

Nurul reported that Reinado had blackening and burning around each of his four bullet wounds and said he had been shot with a high-velocity rifle "at close range". Nurul added that Exposto was shot squarely in the back of his head, also at close range. David Ranson from the Victoria Institute of Forensics was quoted by The Australian saying that the blackening and burning mentioned in Nurul's report only appears when a gun is fired at almost point-blank range.

Ramos-Horta later raged in a Timorese newspaper against The Australian newspaper and the forensic scientists that the newspaper consulted. Attorney General Longinus Montero disputed The Australian version of events, telling reporters in Dili that "It's not right, that information isn't right. The case is still under investigation." He added that the results could not yet be made public.

Apart from the apparent contradictions, much of what apparently transpired on February 11 seems strange. Most glaring was why, with gunfire ringing around his house, Ramos-Horta returned home, or more to the point, why his security detail let him do so. Much has been made of the delay in the army and police response to the shooting, and it appears that Reinado's body was moved around the crime scene, and that police present even answered his mobile phone as he lay dead.

Confusion and conspiracy
Some of Timor's other political grandees appear set to capitalize on the confusion. Mario Carrascalao, a key member of the ruling coalition, said on August 17 that "we still don't know what happened". "For me, all the stories that have been told here - I don't trust them," he said. He called for the immediate release of the prosecutor-general's report into the attacks and the establishment of an independent inquiry into "what happened and more importantly why it happened".

Prime Minister Gusmao has so far resisted calls for any independent inquiry. Before the February shootings, Ramos-Horta's house stood alone at the corner of the route heading uphill from Dili and east to Timor's second city Baucau, no more than a few feet from the roadside, and with some of the gardens easily visible from inside cars and trucks winding uphill to breathtaking views of the Wetar Strait.

The standard version of events, summed up by James Dunn in a paper written for the Australian Human rights Council, took a best-case view that Reinado did not actually intend to kill Ramos-Horta during the fateful encounter: "Almost certainly it was a botched attempt by the rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado, to corner the president and seek further assurances that the proposed surrender conditions, culminating in his pardon, would in fact be carried out."

The report continued: "The plan went tragically wrong because Reinado's target was not there. The President was not at home, but out on a very early beach walk. Reinado's men disarmed the guards and occupied the residence grounds, but two soldiers turned up unexpectedly and shot Reinado and one of his men at what was apparently point blank range. Hearing the shooting, Ramos-Horta hurried back to the residence where he was shot by one of Reinado's men, a rebel enraged at the killing of their leader. It is likely that this angry reaction caused another rebel party to fire on Prime Minister Xanana some time later."

Still, the rumor mill went into overdrive after the shootings. Questions have arisen about the provenance of a US$700,000 bank account in Australia that Reinado allegedly had access to. Other sketchy details surround the links between the rebels and Joao Tavares, who was once described by the UN as the top militia commander in East Timor in 1999. Three rebels were arrested in April in Indonesia-ruled West Timor while staying at his personal residence.

Reinado had a fake Indonesian identification on his person when shot and, bizarrely, Ramos-Horta later railed against Desi Anwar, a well-known Indonesian broadcast journalist who interviewed the fugitive in Indonesia in 2007, for facilitating Reinado's clandestine cross-border travels. In January, an obscure group linked to Reinado known as the Movement for National Unity and Justice (MUNJ) withdrew from moribund talks between the government and the rebels, a failure that Ramos-Horta and Gusmao blamed on Reinado's girlfriend, Angie Pires.

Depending on which rebel account you believe, however, MUNJ representatives were with Reinado right up to February 10, allegedly supplying the vehicles that took the rebels to the capital's outskirts the day of the reputed assassination attempAnother notable and as-yet-unexplained detail emerged from a contact number found on the dead Reinado's mobile phone under the name "Hercul". That's led some to believe the Jakarta-based, Timor-born Hercules Rozario Marca was in contact with Reinado prior to the events at Ramos-Horta's residence. Weeks later two of the rebels linked to Reinado were arrested at Marca's home.

Marca visited Dili in late January and met with Reinado, according to Gusmao's AMP coalition partner and former East Timor governor Mario Carrascalao. During his January visit, Marca also reportedly discussed investment opportunities with various Timorese officials, including both Ramos-Horta and Gusmao, according to the Sun Herald.

With government approval, Marca is now primed to invest in a new swimming pool along Dili's docklands, across from the Parliament House, a remarkable rehabilitation for a man that once allegedly provided muscle to Jakarta's attempts to cow East Timor's independence activists. He has joined other former Jakarta businessmen once linked to Indonesian strongman Suharto who are now cutting government-brokered business deals in Dili, including one for a new casino.

Some say it is no coincidence that those deals were completed around the time an Indonesian-Timorese Commission fudged issues of justice and accountability for crimes committed during Jakarta's brutal quarter-century occupation of the former Portuguese colony, to the chagrin of many Timorese.

The Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF) was established in 2005 by the Timorese and Indonesian governments to examine violence perpetrated by Jakarta's troops and its Timorese proxies during the 1999 violence that marred the vote for independence from Indonesia.

However, the CTF had no powers to prosecute, prompting criticism that it served to whitewash atrocities. Its final report, issued on July 15, concluded that Indonesia also had responsibility for gross human rights violations, such as murder, rape, torture, illegal detention and forced mass deportations, that were committed by militias with the support and participation of Indonesian institutions and their members.

While Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his "deepest regret" for the victims, he quickly dismissed the notion that those responsible should be brought to justice.

After the April shooting, before being released from hospital, Ramos-Horta said Indonesian officers should "come clean" and acknowledge their responsibility for 1999 violence, and that both countries would need to read the commission's report calmly and "see whether we need to take further steps to address the events of 1999".

Earlier, the apparently traumatized Ramos-Horta had visions of a crowd trying to suffocate him, and separately he alleged Indonesian involvement in the assassination attempt on his life. Yudhoyono rebuked that claim, and by the time the CTF report came out Ramos-Horta had completely changed his tune, saying that the victims' legacy would be used to build stronger links between the two countries and that Timor would not be seeking an international tribunal to try those responsible. He was joined by Gusmao in declaring, "We are determined to bring a closure to a chapter of our recent past."

Dormant lightning rod
Reinado's cult-like status led some to fear he could be seen as a martyr and his death become a lightening rod for political discontent. An Australian-led attempt to apprehend him at his southern redoubt in Same in 2007 led to riots in Dili, as his supporters torched buildings and cars. But Reinado's cause seemed to die with its leader, at least in the public eye, although the east-west regional divide inside the Timorese army that prompted Reinado to rebel in the first place remains unsolved.

With illiteracy rates at 60% and child malnutrition 40%, many people are wondering when Timor's some $3 billion in oil revenues, accrued since the establishment of a national petroleum fund in 2005, will start to filter down to the impoverished grassroots. East Timor is listed by the UN as the poorest country per capita in the Asia-Pacific region. More political strife means that potentially lucrative tourism from Australia seems unlikely to take off anytime soon, despite Timor being a closer, cleaner and relatively untouched alternative to Bali, a line Gusmao peddled while on an official visit to Australia last week.

Instead, soaring food and fuel prices are making life even harder for Timor's poor. An official move to give 100,000 hectares of land to the production of bio-fuel crops in a furtive deal with the Indonesian company GT Leste Biotech irked many, not least because it was brokered in January but did not become public until June. That controversial deal with the island state's former occupier was followed by the arrest of around 60 students protesting a decision to buy cars for each of the Timor government's 65 MPs.

The run of government slip-ups only adds to the growing divide between East Timor's politicians and its people, particularly among the restless and unemployed youth. How more contradictory versions of Ramos-Horta's shooting will affect perceptions remains to be seen and reactions will be hard to predict.

Timor has confounded outside observers since independence, with few anticipating the 2006 security meltdown, for example, and others following up with doomsday predictions for the 2007 elections, which in actuality passed off peacefully. What is clear, however, is that since Reinado's demise and the dissolution of his rebellion, the 100,000 internally displaced people have started to return home.

Yet Timor's political top brass have seen their popularity steadily decline in the years since independence. Ramos-Horta attributed Gusmao's disappointing showing in the 2007 parliamentary elections as due to the former fighters "losing touch with the people". FRETILIN, the socialists now in opposition and who were at odds with Gusmao since the early days of Indonesian occupation, saw their vote halved in the same 2007 vote.

Months before the disputed shoot-out, Ramos-Horta did much better in securing around 70% of the votes in the second presidential poll, albeit in a straight run-off against a weak FRETILIN candidate. Now military roadblocks mark the road on both sides of the once-popular president's home, where before the February shootout the Nobel Peace Prize laureate often went for his early morning jog greeting fishermen and bar owners with an easy and secure familiarity.

Simon Roughneen is a roving freelance journalist. He has reported from Africa, Southeast Asia the Middle East and Pakistan.

President of East Timor Arrives in Cuba on Wednesday

HAVANA, Cuba, Sept 3 (acn) The president of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta, arrives in Cuba on Wednesday for an official visit at the invitation of his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro.
Cuban News Agency

According to a note published on Granma news daily, the visit will contribute to strengthening the existing fraternal and cooperation ties between the two countries.

Currently, 231 Cuban doctors and other health professionals are working in Timor-Leste, 36 professors serve as advisors to that country’s literacy campaign, and nearly 700 Timor-Leste young people are studying medicine in Cuba.

During his stay in Cuba, Ramos Horta will hold official talks with Raul Castro and with other government authorities. He will also visit places of economic and historic interest.

Ramos Horta, 58, was the permanent representative to the United Nations of the East Timor independence movement from 1975-1999. He was elected president in 2007. In 1996 he received the Nobel Peace Prize along with Bishop Carlos Belo, an East Timor religious leader.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century in 2002. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor and is located about 640 km (400 miles) northwest of Darwin, Australia.

Leaked autopsy report shows alleged “coup” leader Reinado shot at point-blank range

World Socialist Web Site
WSWS : News & Analysis : Asia : East Timor

By Patrick O’Connor
2 September 2008

Two leaked autopsy reports—which have been published in full on the Wikileaks web site—definitively refute the official version of the events of February 11 in East Timor, according to which former major Alfredo Reinado had engaged in a shoot-out with President Jose Ramos Horta’s security forces while attempting to storm the president’s residence. This was supposedly part of either a coup attempt or planned assassination of both Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. The available evidence now strongly points to the likelihood—raised by the World Socialist Web Site from the very outset—that Reinado was set up and lured to Dili in order to be murdered.

Reinado’s autopsy report indicates that he died after being shot through the eye at near point-blank range. According to a forensic expert consulted by the Australian newspaper, the autopsy’s finding of “burning/blackening of the surrounding skin” to each of Reinado’s four wounds (to the eye, chest, neck, and hand) means that he must have been shot from a range of less than 30 centimetres. The report on Reinado’s colleague Leopoldino Exposto found that he was killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head, also by a “high-velocity rifle fired at close range”.

Reinado and his men were heavily armed when they entered Ramos Horta’s house in the early morning of February 11. The autopsies reported that Reinado was wearing a green vest with 12 magazines containing a total of “347 live ammunitions” in the pockets. Exposto had one magazine with 39 live ammunitions in his vest, as well as a bag with another 98 live ammunitions. It is inconceivable that Reinado—who had received militarily training in Australia—could have led his men into a hostile operation against Ramos Horta but was then somehow shot at point-blank range while not a single presidential guard was wounded.

Reinado’s men, who have since been arrested, have all sworn that they understood that they had an appointment to meet with the president. Several civilian witnesses have now backed this testimony.

For months after the former major’s killing and Ramos Horta’s wounding the Australian press echoed the official line presented by both the Timorese and Australian governments. Deeply sceptical statements issued by a number of senior political figures in Dili went unreported, most notably those of Fretilin leader and former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, who declared he had photographic proof that the alleged attack on Gusmao’s vehicle had been staged.

The official version of events is now so implausible and discredited that even the Australian media feel obligated to change tack.

After reviewing the autopsy evidence, the Australian’s Paul Toohey concluded on August 13: “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.” A later article in the same newspaper added: “Many East Timorese believe the whole thing was a set-up; that rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was invited down to Dili to be killed, to end the two-year stand-off in which he and his rebel band remained armed and roaming the hills in the country’s west.”

An article published in the Fairfax press on August 19 cast serious doubt on the earlier allegation that one of Reinado’s men, Marcel Caetano, had shot President Ramos Horta. “Investigators now believe the shooter was wearing a different uniform from that of Reinado’s men—a uniform gang members used to wear,” the story revealed. “The revelation will fuel fresh speculation in Dili that Reinado was lured to Mr Ramos Horta’s house, where gunmen were waiting.”

The series of leaked evidence and news reports that has emerged in the past fortnight raise the obvious question: if, as appears increasingly certain, Reinado was lured to Ramos Horta’s residence to be killed, who set him up and why? But this question has not been raised by any section of the Australian media. Even more astonishingly, not a single question about the events of February 11 and their aftermath was put to either Gusmao or Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during a joint press conference they held in Canberra last Monday.

Gusmao and the 2006 crisis

The new evidence points to the possibility that Prime Minister Gusmao, or forces closely aligned with him, were responsible for setting up Reinado’s assassination. There is no question that he was among those with the most to gain from Reinado’s death.

Just weeks before his death, the former major released a statement accusing Gusmao of directly instigating the 2006 split in the Timorese military which precipitated widespread violence and culminated in the deployment of hundreds of Australian troops, followed by the resignation of Fretilin Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

There was already substantial evidence pointing to Gusmao’s provocative role in the 2006 crisis. Reinado’s statement, however, indicated that the prime minister had not merely exploited the military split for his own ends but had actively worked to provoke the violence in order to bring down the Fretilin administration. The widely circulated DVD in which these allegations were made also included Reinado’s threat to reveal more information about Gusmao’s actions.
Reinado was killed before he had the opportunity to release further information. But even his initial allegations had seriously destabilised Gusmao’s already unstable coalition government.
By early February, President Ramos Horta had publicly indicated that he agreed with Fretilin’s demand for fresh elections and the formation of a new administration. In a meeting held in Dili on February 7—just four days before Reinado was shot dead—Ramos Horta convened a meeting of Fretilin and government parliamentarians to try to reach an agreement for new elections.

With Gusmao strongly opposed and insisting that his government could continue to govern, the meeting ended inconclusively. Further meetings were planned but never held, due to the February 11 violence, after which Gusmao announced a “state of siege” and claimed emergency authoritarian powers.

Ramos Horta’s apparent rapprochement with Fretilin and moves against Gusmao coincided with the president’s attempts to finalise a “surrender” deal with Reinado. The president met with the “rebel” soldier on January 13 and offered to amnesty the murder charges against Reinado (stemming from his 2006 attacks on government forces) if he first disarmed and submitted to house arrest. These negotiations again point to the absence of any logical motive for Reinado to lead an armed attack against Ramos Horta.

Investigation blocked, evidence corrupted

In the aftermath of the February 11 events, Prime Minister Gusmao has blocked the formation of an international inquiry, despite the Timorese parliament demanding one. As a result, the sole investigation underway is headed by the country’s prosecutor-general, Longuinhos Monteiro, who has little credibility in Dili. An earlier UN report into the 2006 crisis accused Monteiro of blindly following Gusmao and concluded that he did not “function independently from the state of East Timor”.

According to a leaked UN report on Monteiro’s investigation into Reinado’s death and Ramos Horta’s wounding, the National Investigation Department has been subjected to “political and military interference” and a lack of cooperation. An Associated Press report added: “Poor handling of evidence—including the weapons used by the rebels—has also botched the investigation. A source close to the investigation said the F-FDTL [Timorese Defence Force] soldiers guarding the president’s home took Reinado’s cell phone off his body, and continued to receive and make calls for days after his death, before handing it over to investigators.”

This corruption of critical evidence, combined with Gusmao’s veto of an international investigation, may result in the exact course of events leading up to Reinado’s death and Ramos Horta’s wounding never being known. Monteiro’s final report will likely be a whitewash.

Serious questions have been raised by Portuguese journalist Felícia Cabrita about Albino Assis, one of Ramos Horta’s military security personnel. In a report published in the weekly Sol newspaper in March, Cabrita suggested that Assis betrayed both Reinado and Ramos Horta.

Phone records indicate that Assis and Reinado had maintained frequent contact in the period leading up to the February 11 violence. The Portuguese report also alleged that Assis contacted Salsinha, leader of the mutinous military “petitioners”, and told him that Reinado had been killed and Ramos Horta badly wounded. Salsinha had travelled from the western districts with Reinado but, instead of going with him to visit Ramos Horta, had waited near Gusmao’s residence. Why did Assis tell Salsinha what had happened? Did Ramos Horta’s guard know in advance that the petitioners’ leader had come to Dili with Reinado? The many unanswered questions only add to the uncertainty about what really happened in relation to the alleged attack on Gusmao’s vehicle convoy which followed the shootings at Ramos Horta’s home.

Suspicion has also fallen on the Indonesian-based Hercules Rozario Marcal, who visited Dili just days before February 11. “Hercules was born in East Timor and gained notoriety in Jakarta in the 1990s as a gangster running protection rackets,” Melbourne’s Age reported. “His gang also served as enforcers for the Suharto regime, intimidating dissidents and East Timorese independence activists. His military patrons were reputed to include the then general Prabowo Subianto, Suharto’s son-in-law. At one stage he lived in the Jakarta house of Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim, who in 2003 was indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity.”

Timorese investigators have reportedly established that Hercules contacted and may have met Reinado. His contact number was also found stored in Reinado’s mobile phone. On January 21, just three weeks before Reinado was killed, Hercules met with Gusmao, ostensibly as part of an Indonesian business delegation investigating hotel and housing investment opportunities. In an extraordinary move, the Gusmao government announced earlier this month that it was awarding Hercules a contract to build a mini-mart and swimming pool on the site of a refugee camp in central Dili—despite the gangster reportedly being under investigation for his potential involvement in Ramos Horta and Reinado’s shooting.

Australian forces stood down?

There remain a number of outstanding questions regarding the Australian government and military’s murky relations with Reinado, going back to his role in the 2006 crisis. (See “East Timor: Hunt for ‘rebel’ military leader called off”)

In the weeks leading up to February 11, Reinado and the Australian military, using Angelita Pires as a go-between, informed each other about their respective movements in order to avoid any unexpected encounters in the jungle of Timor’s western districts. In addition, it is now also known that at least one senior Australian military figure was directly involved in the negotiations between Ramos Horta and Reinado in January. According to an August 22 article in the Australian, Major Michael Stone accompanied the president to the January 13 meeting in the western town of Maubisse. Stone was appointed Ramos Horta’s military affairs adviser in late 2007 after being granted a two-year release from his Australian Army duties.

There can be no doubt that Australian intelligence would have had the former major under close surveillance up to and on February 11. Similarly, it is highly unlikely that Reinado’s many phone calls and text messages sent from his mobile phone—including calls made to and received from Australia—would not have been intercepted.

How then were Reinado and his men able to drive from the Ermera district, south-west of the capital, through the capital and straight into Ramos Horta’s residence without being detected by anyone, including the hundreds of Australian and New Zealand troops in the country? With twelve heavily armed men accompanying Reinado in two vehicles, and another ten with Salsinha in two other vehicles, it was hardly an inconspicuous convoy. In addition, Reinado’s men have told the media that they drove slowly to avoid being early for what they believed was a 6 a.m. appointment to meet the president. “The rebels point out they dawdled on the way to Dili, stopping in places to kill time to arrive at the appointed hour,” the Australian reported.

The day after the February 11 attacks, East Timor’s army chief Taur Matan Ruak expressed his concern: “Given the high number of international forces present in East Timor, in particular within the capital, how is it possible that vehicles transporting armed people have entered the city and executed an approach to the residences of the president and the prime minister without having been detected? There has been a lack of capacity shown by the international forces, who have primary responsibility for the security within East Timor, to foresee, react and prevent these events.”

Ramos Horta later made similar comments: “I didn’t see any ISF [Australian-led International Stabilisation Force] elements or UNPOL [police] in the area ... normally they are supposed to show up instantly, and in this case of extreme gravity they would normally seal off the entire area, blocking the exit route of the attackers. That didn’t happen. As far as I know, no hostile pursuit of the attackers was made for several days. How did Mr Alfredo Reinado happen to be totally undetected in Dili when the ISF was supposed to be keeping an eye on his movements?”

The circumstances of Reinado’s death raise the question as to whether Australian forces were deliberately stood down on February 11.

Such an act would in no way be inconsistent with Canberra’s filthy record in East Timor. In 1975 the Whitlam Labor government encouraged the Indonesian military junta to invade and annexe the former Portuguese colony; the Hawke-Keating Labor government later finalised an agreement with the military dictator Suharto for the illegal exploitation of the billion dollar oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. In 1999 the Howard Liberal government dispatched hundreds of troops in order to protect the Australian ruling elite’s vital interests in the tiny half-island, and oversee its transition to so-called independence amid the collapse of the Suharto regime.

The precise role played by Australian forces in the 2006 military split and subsequent violence is yet to be determined. There is no doubt, however, that the Howard government manipulated the unrest to send in the troops and then engineer a “regime change” commensurate with its strategic and financial interests. The Alkatiri administration was regarded as too close to rival powers, particularly Portugal and China, and had proved unwilling to fully accommodate Canberra’s demands during negotiations over the allocation of the Timor Sea’s oil and gas.

Having expended substantial efforts resources in ousting Alkatiri, the Australian government would have viewed with alarm President Ramos Horta’s apparent readiness to back the dissolution of the Gusmao government, potentially facilitating Alkatiri’s return to power. Amid escalating hostility among ordinary Timorese towards Australia’s military presence, this would have marked a major setback, with potential geo-strategic consequences beyond Timor’s borders. China’s rising influence is creating serious concerns within the Australian foreign policy establishment that Canberra’s hegemony in the South Pacific is being fatally undermined. It is this, above all, that has led to a series of Australian-led police and military operations throughout the region in recent years, including in East Timor.

Dili investigator called to Canberra as evidence of execution mounts


Lindsay Murdoch in Darwin
September 4, 2008

EAST TIMOR'S top prosecutor, Longuinhos Monteiro, is flying to Canberra to be briefed on the investigation into the February 11 dawn attacks in Dili.

Australian Federal Police forensic investigators have deciphered telephone calls that the rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado, made before he was shot dead at the home of East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta.

The investigation led by Mr Monteiro is at a critical impasse. Evidence gathered over the past seven months suggests Reinado may have been set up for execution in a conspiracy that includes at least one of his trusted lieutenants.

Mr Ramos-Horta has confirmed that the man who shot him twice in the back was not Marcelo Caetano, one of Reinado's men, as had been widely reported.

The AFP investigated telephone conversations Reinado had shortly before the attacks with a Timorese-born Jakarta gangster, Hercules Rozario Marcal. The telephone taken from Reinado's body had a listing for "Hercul".

Hercules, who has denied any involvement in the attacks, last month received approval to develop businesses in Dili.

The AFP has also investigated 47 telephone calls Reinado made to or received from Australia.

Potentially explosive developments in the investigation have been kept secret in East Timor, where Reinado was a cult hero.

Authorities fear an outbreak of violence if it becomes known that Reinado was not responsible for shooting the popular president, who received emergency surgery in Darwin.

The official version of events is that Reinado led rebels to the homes of Mr Ramos-Horta and the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, to either assassinate or kidnap them as part of an attempted coup.

Political figures in Dili have dismissed recent media speculation in Australia that Reinado and Mr Ramos-Horta had reached an impasse in negotiations at a meeting they held in the mountain village of Maubisse on January 13. The speculation was based on a tape recording of part of the meeting.

The Herald revealed four days after the attacks that during the meeting Mr Ramos-Horta offered to include Reinado in an amnesty to be announced on May 20, the anniversary of East Timor's independence.

"A deal was essentially done," said Joao Goncalves, the Minister for Economic Development, who was present at the meeting.

The Government in Dili is facing increasing pressure to establish an international inquiry into the attacks as Mr Monteiro has delayed for several months the completion of his investigation.

Jose Teixeira, a spokesman for Fretilin, the Opposition, said any further delay in setting up an international inquiry "ignores the wishes of Timorese who want to know the truth behind the attacks".

Mr Monteiro has denied seeing an autopsy report that was first published on the website Wikileaks purportedly showing that Reinado was shot at almost point-blank range.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/09/03/1220121329582.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.