Timor-Leste Legal News March 2008 (Part 2)
UNMIT Daily Media Review 17 March 2008
Mino Paixao: Salsinha and his men have escaped – The Apprehension Operation, under the command of Major Neves, Major Ular, and Major Koliati, surrounded the place where Salsinha and his men were hiding. The cordon was approximately 70 metres in diameter and set up in order to force them to surrender. However, Salsinha and his men managed to escape. “Major Neves and his members were urging them to surrender. But Salsinha and his men escaped- there was no contact fire from either of the parties,” said General Commander Paixao on Saturday (15/3) in Memorial Hall, Dili. (TP)
Salsina’s wife asks Govt to stop the Operation – The wife of Gastao Salsinha, Joaquina Salsinha, has asked the Government to stop the Apprehension Operation hunting her husband. “It’s not necessary to hunt him [Salshina] if there is a willingness to solve the problem. It is better to keep a cool head in trying to resolve this problem together as his case affects the whole nation,” she said on Friday (14/2) at her residence in Gleno, Ermera. She has also questioned why the Government is not using peaceful measures to encourage him to surrender, rather than using weapons and force. Joaquin believes that her husband will not surrender if the Apprehension Operation continues for a long time. This is why she is insisting that the Apprehension Operation must be stopped. Joaquina has also noted that her husband’s case is mostly utilized by the leaders for their own political ends. “We have had no contact for the last two months. He has not returned home until now. I am not sure whether he is dead or still alive,” she added. (STL)
Inasio Maia surrenders himself – One of Gastao Salshina’s members, Inasio Maia, has surrendered himself to the police in Hatolia sub-district after he directly contacted the former Commander of Regional IV, Ernesto Fernandes known as ‘Dudu,’ on Sunday (16/3), in Ermera district. “He told me directly that he was willing to surrender himself. Therefore, I immediately passed this on to the police in Ermera to pick him up,” said Dudu. Dudu also explained that Inasio decided to surrender after the Apprehension Operation forces attempted to capture him. Together with other members, he has broken away from the leadership of Gastao Salsinha. (STL)
Koliati says military methods will be used against Salsinha and his men – The Apprehension Operation will use military tactics to force Salsinha and his men to surrender. “If Salsinha and his group are not going to respond to our repeated appeals, we will use military methods to bring them to justice,” said Lieutenant Koliati on Friday (14/3/) in Letefoho, Ermera. (STL)
UN supports Timorese People to steer towards justice – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, said that United Nation will continue to support the Timorese people to steer their own paths towards justice. Mr Khare’s statements were made during a ceremony where ten probationary judges, prosecutors and public defenders were sworn-in by Chief Justice Claudio Ximenes at Dili’s Court of Appeals. “I also congratulate the authorities of the Justice Ministry and Legal Training Centre who have made an effort to steer its justice system,” said the SRSG. (TP)
Xanana says people expect justice to be impartial – Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, said that people expect that justice should be impartial. He made the statement after ten probationary judges, prosecutors and public defenders have been sworn-in by the Chief Justice Claudio Ximenes. “I would like to thank all our friends who been cooperating in this project, to ensure the success of the course,” said the Prime Minister. (DN)
Dionisio Babo asks the Government to implement the Commission of Inquiry – The Secretary-General of the CNRT party, Dinisio Babo Soares, has asked the Government to set up a Commission of Inquiry as quickly as possible as it has been approved by the parliament. “The government should establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the current situation and the attacks on February 11th,” he said. (STL)
FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE FRETILIN
17 March 2008 MEDIA RELEASE
FRETILIN demands naming and action against alleged impeders of Salsinha group surrender
The FRETILIN leader in the Timor-Leste National Parliament demanded today that Timor-Leste’s Prosecutor General and interim President of the Republic name and commence criminal action against persons they have publicly stated are suspected of actively impeding the surrender to authorities of former army Lieutenant Salsinha and his armed group.
Francisco Branco, reacting to media reports of statements by both the interim President Fernando de Araujo Lasama, and Prosecutor General Monteiro Longhuinos, that they suspected that a third party or parties had been actively interfering to prevent Salsinha and his armed group from surrendering since the violent incidents of 11th February, said that it was in the “national interest that they do so instead of opening up speculation, rumour mongering and confusion in our community by making vague and unsubstantiated remarks in the press.
“If there are people who are suspected of engaging in such unlawful conduct, then they should be charged and publicly named and brought before the courts. That is how it works in a state under the rule of law,” added Branco.
“The whole of the FRETILIN leadership and its parliamentarians continue to give their full support to the joint F-FDTL/PNTL operation and reiterate their appeal to all Timorese, including FRETILIN members and supporters, to cooperate and assist the joint operation in every way they can to ensure the operation succeeds.
“FRETILIN also repeats its appeal to Mr. Salsinha and his armed Group to surrender forthwith to the security forces, who are presently undertaking operations against them. Only by avoiding further violence and bloodshed will they be able to contribute to the process of seeking truth and justice in our country,” Branco concluded.
Mr. Branco’s calls were echoed by the Bishop of the Diocese of Baucau, Basilio do Nascimento. In local media today, the Bishop said that the Prosecutor General’s public statement that third parties had been impeding Salsinha and his group from surrendering had opened the door to needless public speculation and rumour.
For further comment: Nilva Gimaraes, Media Officer, FRETILIN Parliamentary Group +670 734 0389
Jose Teixeira MP in Dili +670 728 7080
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF EAST TIMOR OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER SPEECH His EXCELLENCY PRIME-MINISTER KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO ON THE OCCASION OF THE SWEARING-IN OF PROBATIONARY JUDGES, PROSECUTORS AND PUBLIC DEFENDERS March 14, 2008 Court of Appeal Caicoli, Dili
Exmos. Ladies Magistrates and Public Defenders
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to first congratulate the Judges, Attorneys and Public Defenders trainees who attended the second course at the Center of Judicial Training that have just taken their new posts. The training of ten for “the judiciary” is a further step in the arduous path that is the process of building one of the main organs of sovereignty of the country, which are the Courts.
Since our nation is sovereign and independent, all efforts have been made to consolidate a culture with judicial tribunals that operate in a manner fair, accessible and efficient. Training of Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders, a model that is being developed at the Judicial Training Centre, as part of this plan, can not fail to express my gratitude to all those who have contributed to the success of this course. The progress in the training of Magistrates, it should be considered as an invaluable wealth for the country
The Government believes that the improvement of the justice system of Timor-Leste, is part of a wider process of reform of the state and of economic and social development. Justice is not swift, effective and universal, contributing to a climate of impunity and weakens the democratic authority of the state.
More than ever, in our recent history, justice is seen as an essential premise to overcome the crisis which we live and hope to give a vote of the people, returning him the confidence in the democratic institutions of the country. Notwithstanding the valuable progress made so far, this government believes that the judicial organisation has to be reconsidered so that, first, any citizen, whatever their social status, professional or economic is above the law and, second, to be reconciled the ideals of development, freedom and security.
We live in difficult times when the constitutional democratic order has been questioned and whose factors are of a social and political complex. In the diagnosis, it is particularly important to develop the field of criminal law, with special emphasis on the investigation of crimes and greater coordination with the police apparatus, especially with the police for criminal investigation.
The development of capabilities in this area, accompanied by an effective system of preventative arrests, prisons, including the creation of a military prison, and new approaches to fighting crime and insecurity, foster Justice, Security and Welfare of All, which is the purpose and reason for the rule.
When the democratic authority of the State is called into question, it requires that power is exercised: the legislative, executive and the administration of justice on behalf of the people – together we must prepare a collective response so that our people live with dignity they deserves.
The improvement of the administration of justice, reform of the management system and the acceleration of the procedural requirements are priorities for the government but that will only be effective if the courts are equipped with sufficient human resources that are competent. The Magistrates and Public Defenders are the servers of the interests of the Nation, the interests of the people, the firm defence of the rule of law that the Democratic Constitution prescribes, and therefore the noble role they are assigned in the future, is to be recognized by the community as the guarantor of fundamental rights.
Ladies Judges, Attorneys and Public Defenders,
To incorporate the courts and judicial institutions are taking a commitment to the whole community, promotion of justice and the protection of rights and legitimate interests of citizens, which begins in a responsible conduct and action for a prompt and effective justice every day .
On the part of the government, as Prime Minister, I give the guarantee of permanent institutional support in your mission and the call for the cooperation of citizens, It is necessary to adequately understand the systems and acts for which they asked cooperation, which passes by a prolonged campaign of information so that later they can not rely on ignorance of the consequences of their reprehensible behavior.
Thus, this Government is committed to enlightenment and civic participation by adopting a policy cross for the sector of justice, which passes by schools and education. It is vital that young people understand the extent to which democracy, development and well-being are dependent on justice that works, instilling a culture of rigor and accountability, not only in the bodies of power and the agents of justice but in all citizens.
I wish you good work in contributing to the solution of problems affecting our society and our people. The Timorese society account with your dedication and commitment.
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao
UNMIT Daily Media Review 14 March 2008
TVTL News Coverage
Lasama: Salsinha not far away – The Acting President of the Republic, Fernando Lasama, has again asked Salsinha to surrender. “I think he is still here in Timor-Leste. We hope that he will think about the solution for the nation … if Salsinha opens fire, then members of the operation will of course defend themselves,” said PR Lasama. Related to the statement of Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro that some people are influencing Salsinha not to surrender, Acting President Lasama said it would be in the interests of some people if Salsinha died as he would also bury with him all the information he had. “We consider him to be a main witness as he led the attack against PM Xanana in Balibar. I think Salsinha has lots of information about this,” said Acting PR Lasama on Thursday (13/2) in Palacio das Cinzas Caicoli, Dili. (DN)
Tara: Petitioners have option to return to military – Major Tara said that the petitioners have an option to return to the military as stated in the questionnaires provided by the Government. “Some questions asked: Do you want to return to the military even though you left it for two years?’ Provide your explanation,” said Major Tara after meeting with PM Xanana on Thursday (13/2) in Palacio do Governu, Dili.
Lasama: “Salsinha key informant of February 11” – The Acting President of the Republic, Fernando Lasama considers Salsinha to be the key person in the attempts made against PR Ramos-Horta and PM Xanana on February 11. Related to the statement of Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro that some people are influencing Salsinha not to surrender, Acting President Lasama said it would be in the interests of some people if Salsinha died as he would also bury with him all the information he had. “We consider him to be a main witness as he led the attack against PM Xanana in Balibar. I think Salsinha has lots of information about this,” said Acting PR Lasama on Thursday (13/2) in Palacio das Cinzas Caicoli, Dili. (DN)
Fretilin asks Govt to implement ICI resolutions – Fretilin MP in the National Parliament has asked Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to implement the resolution of the International Commission of Inquiry approved by the National Parliament to investigate the attacks against PR Horta and PM Xanana on February 11. “It has already been one month since the events of February 11. The Government should implement the International Commission of Inquiry immediately in order to get to the truth of the matter,” said Francisco Miranda, Fretilin member of NP on Thursday (13/3) in the National Parliament. (DN)
Harsh spotlight on Timor forces The Age Stephanie March, Dili March 15, 2008 – EAST Timor’s police and military have been accused of beating and torturing citizens since a state of emergency began following the February 11 attacks that left President Jose Ramos Horta wounded and rebel leader Alfredo Reinado dead. Sources in Ermera district, close to where the remaining rebels are reportedly hiding, have complained of beatings by the military as the hunt for rebel leader Gastao Salsinha and his followers continues.
A report by the Ombudsman for Human Rights detailed eight separate incidents of beatings, unlawful detention and harassment by the police, known as the PNTL, and military, or FDTL, under the state of emergency, but sources from Parliament and police say the numbers are much higher.
In one incident from the report, a group of armed military police using four-wheel-drives with tinted windows and no registration plates chased a man through the capital, Dili, before assaulting him and dislocating his shoulder. In another incident, a group of police reportedly entered a victim’s house in Dili without an arrest warrant and kicked him in the stomach.
“There was no need to use such excessive force to arrest the individual. These actions show an abuse of power on the part of the authority, violating human rights during the state of siege,” said the report.
The report comes as problems between the joint command and United Nations police begin to surface.
At Dili airport late last month, a group of FDTL military forced UN police at gunpoint to hand over a suspect they had brought by helicopter from the western enclave of Oecussi.
The Deputy Commissioner of the UN Police in East Timor, Hermanprit Singh, said the incident at the airport was unfortunate but was being investigated. There have been other reports that UN police who have tried to stop beatings of innocent civilians by the PNTL have been threatened by PNTL officers.
A spokeswoman for the UN mission admitted they too were receiving complaints of human rights violations by police and military but she refused to elaborate.
The country’s ombudsman, Sebastiao Dias Ximenes, compared the “mentality” of the East Timorese forces to that of the Indonesian police during their 24-year occupation of the island nation. “If I compare with Indonesian time, the police of Indonesian (are) better than our police not worse but better,” Mr Ximenes said.
The report also named the International Stabilisation Force, which comprises Australian and New Zealand troops, as inappropriately capturing people caught breaking the 10pm-6am curfew, but did not detail specific incidents. The ISF are providing tactical and operational support to the 465 Timorese officers deployed to 30 checkpoints across the country as authorities wait for the remaining rebels to surrender.
Both East Timor’s Police Commander, Alfonso De Jesus, and Commander of the ISF, Brigadier James Baker, refused to comment on the report’s findings.
East Timorese MP Fernanda Borges, leader of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, said Parliament had received more reports about aggressive behaviour and unlawful assaults, including intimidation. She had received reports from victims that security forces were using this opportunity to “settle old scores” that they might have had from the 2006 crisis or the resistance years.
Mr Ximenes said neither police nor military wore name tags on their uniforms, making it difficult for victims to identify perpetrating officers and near impossible to take disciplinary action.
Last month analysts expressed grave concern at the East Timorese Government’s decision to merge the police and military under the same command for the period of the state of emergency, just two years after violence between sections of the two forces destabilised the country, leaving 37 dead and forcing 150,000 to flee their homes.
International Crisis Group analyst Sophia Cason warned the merger could lead to a confusion of roles and powers.
TLPres: Statement by President DR Jose Ramos-Horta English 13 March 2008 Press Release Statement by President DR Jose Ramos-Horta
President DR Jose Ramos-Horta, from the Darwin Private Hospital today, has refuted information published in the media that attributed comments to him concerning the February 11th shooting incident in Dili. President Ramos Horta has reiterated that he has not made any statement to the media regarding the incident.
During his treatment in Darwin, President Ramos Horta has authorised the Timor-Leste National Television station, ‘Television Timor-Leste’, to take footage of him and record a statement, however there have been no interviews or statements made concerning the details of the February 11th incident.
President Ramos Horta also took the opportunity to reinforce his support and confidence in the Interim President, Fernando “Lasama” de Araujo, The Interim President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, and The Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, to manage the political affairs of the country.
“Interim President, Fernando “Lasama” de Araujo has my full confidence to carry out the duties of the Head of State, with dignity and responsibility. It is not my intention to intervene in the affairs of State.” President Ramos Horta stated.
UNMIT Daily Media Review 13 March 2008
TVTL News Coverage
Message of President José Ramos-Horta to the Nation
Now is the holy week, it is the beginning of Easter. It is the first time since one of our brothers of Alfredo Reinado’s group and Salsinha’s shot me that I have the possibility to speak to all people of Timor-Leste: to the Bishops, priests, sisters, Government, National Parliament, and civil society, all people of Timor-Leste.
I am thankful for your concerns, support, confidence and solidarity. I will not make a long statement, and I will not deliver a political speech. In one or two more weeks, I will be able to speak much more. I have received good treatment from everybody in Darwin Royal Hospital.
I thank the ambulance and the GNR officers who took me to Heliport hospital. I thank the medical doctors in Heliport, ‘Medical Centre’ which saved my life, and flew me to Darwin.
Soon I will try to return to Timor-Leste to resume my work. At the moment Fernando Lasama serves as the Acting President of Republic with dignity, integrity and competence. I appeal to the Government, Members of Parliament, and political parties to work together in assisting the poor.
That is all my words.
PGR: 4 F-FDTL members not involved in Joint Operation – The General Prosecutor of Republic Longuinhos has refuted claims that four F-FDTL members previously involved in the May 25 case were now involved in the F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation. Mr Longuinhos said that the four members were currently detained in the F-FDTL detention centre in Tasi Tolu, Dili. “This is to counter the rumours that these four members of the F-FDTL are involved in the F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation to chase Salsinha and his group. This is not true because they are now in the hands of the military police in Tasi Tolu,” said PGR Monteiro on Tuesday (11/3) in Dili. PGR Monteiro said that the four members of F-FDTL will be imprisoned in the military prison within the headquarters of the defence forces. PGR also said that the military prison is under construction. “The construction is on the final phase. The four members are currently under detention and will remain so until they can enter the prison as soon as it is completed,” said PGR Monteiro.
Govt. to solve petitioners’ problem – The Advisor to the Cabinet of the Prime Minister for Civil Society and Petitioners’ Problem, Joaquim Fonseca, said that the Government is going to solve the petitioners’ problems by providing questionnaires to them. The petitioners will answer in the questionnaire the question of whether they want to return to the military or remain as civilians upon the required mechanisms and criteria. “The State Secretary of Defence and F-FDTL have been working on the process for those who want to return to the military based on the required criteria,” said Mr. Fonseca. The media is currently not allowed to enter the gathering place of the petitioners without the authorization of Mr Fonseca.
No confrontation between Salsinha and Joint Operation – Even though the deadline for Salsinha has ended, there has been no confrontation between him and the F-FDFTL/ PNTL Joint Operation. A source from the Government Palace said that the stronghold of Salsinha has been detected but no attacks have as yet been conducted as the authorities want to avoid bloodshed. Separately, the Spokesperson of the F-FDFTL/ PNTL Joint Operation, Lieutenant Colonel Filomeno Paixão, said that Salsinha has to contribute to the process. “Salsinha has to give us his contribution as we have all been waiting for two years. We will never have any solution if he keeps extending the deadline,” said Commander Paixão. (DN)
Filomeno Paixao: Joint Operation continues – The Spokesperson of the F-FDFTL/ PNTL Joint Operation, Lieutenant Colonel Filomeno Paixao, said that because Salsinha and his group have not as yet surrendered, the operation is still continuing. “He promised that he should surrender on Monday (11/3). If he does not surrender the operation will continue to bring all people to justice all those who are against justice,” said Commander PaixÃ£o at the press conference held in Memorial, Dili. “Salsinha has to give us his contribution as we have all been waiting for two years, but we will never have any solution if he keeps extending the deadline,” said Commander Paixao. (DN)
James Baker: ISF concerned about media coverage of Feb 11 – The Commander of International Stabilization Forces (ISF), James Baker said that the ISF is concerned with the inaccuracies in information provided by the Timor-Leste media in their coverage of the February 11 events. According to Commander Baker, the information provided has not been factual. “I read lots of articles about February 11 which have no facts,” said Commander Baker. Commander Baker confirmed that if the press wanted clarification about any information related to the ISF, they could contact the ISF directly. “It’s very important to disseminate true information rather than spreading rumours. We are asking the media to stop the speculations,” said Commander Baker. (DN)
PGR: knows who is preventing Salsinha from surrendering – The Prosecutor General of the Republic, Longuinhos Monteiro, said that he knows the people who are impeding the surrender of Salsinha to the F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation. PGR Monteiro said the people have been identified through their telephone communications with Salsinha. PGR Monteiro also said Salsinha’s group are split between those who want to leave and those who want to stay with him. (STL)
PGR: Susar may contact Salsinha – PGR Longuinhos Monteiro has commended the offer made by Susar to help Salsinha to surrender. “I think this will help persuade him [Salsinha] to surrender,” said PGR Monteiro. PGR Monteiro also said that he had lost contact with Salsinha since the deadline for his surrender ended (9-11/3). (TP)
Criminal Trials at the Dili District Court JSMP Justice Update March 2008 – At the beginning of March 2008, the Dili District Court recommenced hearing criminal cases relating to the 2006 crisis. These hearings were conducted at the Court of Appeal in Kaikoli, Dili as the Dili District Court is still being renovated. During the monitoring period, many members of the group led by the deceased Major Alfredo Reinaldo Alves handed themselves in to the government in relation to the incidents that occurred on 11 February. Susar and others were immediately brought before the court by the Prosecution Unit to provide statements about their involvement in incidents since the events of 2006.
These hearings are still at the pretrial stage, meaning nobody – including JSMP – can be granted access to these hearings. This prohibition of access relates to the provisions contained in Articles 22.214.171.124; 247.1 of the Timor Leste Criminal Procedure Code , which stipulates such hearings shall be closed to the public. Accordingly, JSMP was only able to monitor hearings conducted by the court other than those related to the examination of the late Major Reinado’s associates.
José Manuel Pires/Case No 211/crm.s/07/TDD
In this case, the Prosecution accused the defendant, Jose Manuel Pires of “damaging the property of another person” as proscribed in Article 406.1 of the Indonesian Penal Code. The defence lawyer, however, argued that the evidence presented during the trial was factually incorrect and, in any case, insufficient to warrant a conviction. He further claimed that prosecution witnesses did not actually see the defendant taking part in the alleged crime. After hearing from the prosecution and the defence, the presiding judge adjourned the trial until 14 March 2008 for the final decision.
Luis Neves de Araújo Correia/Case No 20 crm.s/07/TDD
During this preliminary hearing, the defendant and prosecution witnesses were called to give an initial statement to the court. The testimony of the defendant differed markedly from that of the witnesses. After examining all assembled evidence and considering the statements, the presiding judge decided to proceed with the trial. Accordingly, the prosecution formally charged the defendant with maltreatment, under Article 352(1) of the Indonesian Penal Code. The trial was adjourned until 7 March 2008 to hear the final decision of the court.
Mario de Araújo Carvalho/Case No 89/crm.s/07/TDD
This hearing was the final stage of trial. The hearing was presided over by international judge Vitor Hugo Pardal. After assessing the evidence presented to the court throughout the trial and considering all elements of the crimes alleged by the public prosecutor, Judge Pardal found the defendant Mario de Araujo Carvalho guilty of murder, as set out in Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code as a ‘crime against life’, and sentenced him to eight years imprisonment.
Quintiliano Rodrigues Falo Cs/Case No 221/crm.s/07/TDD
This trial, relating to the burning of a house, involves charges of property destruction under Article 406(1) of the Indonesian Penal Code. Nine other persons have been separately charged in relation to this incident. The hearing continued with testimony from four prosecution witnesses. Under questioning, it emerged that only one of these four witnesses actually saw the defendant Quintiliano Rodrigues Falo at the scene of the crime. Furthermore, this witness stated that he did not see who actually burned the house. After hearing this testimony, the presiding judge adjourned the trial until 14 March, when testimony from another two witnesses will be heard.
Gabriel Maia/Case No 30/crm.s/07/TDD
This case continued with testimony from the defendant Gabriel Maia, who was charged with several criminal acts, namely maltreatment, defamation and making threats with the intention of committing a crime. In his testimony the defendant rejected all allegations made by the prosecution. The defendant stated that on the 23 August 2005 he did indeed have an argument with the victim, but committed no offence against the victim, to whom he was at the time married. The defendant further dismissed the relevance of a doctor’s certificate obtained by the victim, claiming that it was merely intended to put blame on him. Witnesses scheduled to give evidence were not present as the court had not issued them with a formal summons. The trial was adjourned and is scheduled to be continued on 26 March 2008.
UNMIT Daily Media Review 12 March 2008
RTL News Coverage
Monteiro: Salsinha influenced to not surrender – The General Prosecutor of the Republic Longuinhos Monteiro has claimed that there is an important person in this country who is influencing Salsinha not to surrender to the old leadership, but instead to surrender to the new leaders- the Prosecutor General declined to reveal who the new leaders are. Separately, Mr. Monteiro also said that some people outside the country are attempting to supply Salsinha with weapons. “I have new information that a person has tried to get between 5-10 weapons to support Salsinha,” said Mr. Monteiro on Tuesday (11/3) in Dili. However, Mr. Monteiro believes that the weapons will not reach Timor-Leste as the country has taken action to prevent this kind of weapons’ distribution.
Mateus Fernandes: The operation against rebels may create victims – Related to the unsuccessful attempts to get Salsinha to surrender to the state, the Deputy Commander of the F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation, Inspector Mateus Fernandes, said that the operation against the rebel leader may create victims if the rebels do not follow the state’s instruction and open fire against the operation in Ermera. Inspector Fernandes said that the Joint Operation will attempt to avoid using physical confrontation against the rebels, instead looking for peaceful ways to get them to surrender. “We really don’t want this operation to create victims. So we are asking Salsinha not to listen to rumours,” said Inspector Fernandes. The F-FDTL/PNTL Joint Operation continues in the districts, while in Ermera district the operation is approaching the stronghold of Salsinha and his group.
Monteiro: no more bargaining with Salsinha – The General Prosecutor of the Republic, Longuinhos Monteiro said that the Government and the General Prosecutor will not bargain with Salsinha. “As the Government’s representative in this case, I tell you that we will not bargain with Salsinha. For us this is an urgent case to be solved immediately,” said Mr. Monteiro on Tuesday (11/3) in Caicoli, Dili. According to Mr. Monteiro, Salsinha asked to extend his time for surrendering on Monday (10/3) but then broke his own promise by sending a letter to the General Prosecutor explaining why he would not be surrendering. “Now Salsinha says that he wants to surrender to PR Ramos-Horta when the president returns from Australia; this is his own statement. If something happens, don’t blame the Government” said Mr. Monteiro.
Xanana: Salsinha, don’t waste your time – PM Xanana Gusmão appealed to Salsinha and his group to not waste time by waiting for PR Ramos-Horta’s return in order to surrender. “Salsinha is waiting for the President to surrender, but this will not help. This is not an option that the Joint Operation Command will consider,” said PM Xanana at the plenary session of the National Parliament on Tuesday (11/3) when the Prime Minister presented the report of the 48 hours of the ‘State of Siege’ to the National Parliament. PM Xanana Gusmão also appealed to all people who have connections with Salsinha and his group to persuade them to surrender, rather than to die. With regards to the Prosecutor General Longuinhos Monteiro’s relationship with Salsinha, the Prime Minister said that the Prosecutor General’s interaction with Salsinha was only to confirm whether Salsinha would surrender or not. (STL)
Tara-Tilman meet Lasama: Petitioners, not to return to the military – Former Major Augusto ‘Tara’ and Marcos ‘Pilotu’, together with four other petitioners, officially met the Acting President of the Republic, Fernando ‘Lasama’ to discuss the future for the petitioners gathered in Aitarak Laran, Dili. Major Tara said that the position of the Acting President is also the same as the Governments: that the petitioners cannot return to the military and must remain as civilians. “We are asking Prime Minister Xanana to clarify that the petitioners are to indeed remain as civilians, so that we have a clear answer,” said Tara on Tuesday (11/3) after meeting the Acting President. (STL)
Joint Operation overacts: MP asks Xanana to quit – Member of the National Parliament are asking PM Xanana to quit from his position as the Minister of Security and Defence as he is unable to control PNTL and F-FDTL officers who acted inappropriately during the ‘State of Siege.’ During the NP plenary session, the Prime Minister offered no comment on this, but said that the Joint Operation Command would make efforts to improve their attitudes. The Prime Minister has also appealed for community members to report what they see, hear and feel to the Provedor of Human Rights. (STL)
People try to support weapons to Salsinha – The General Prosecutor of Republic Longuinhos Monteiro said that some people outside the country are attempting to supply Salsinha with weapons. “I have new information that a person has tried to get between 5-10 weapons to support Salsinha,” said Mr. Monteiro on Tuesday (11/3) in Dili. However, Mr. Monteiro believes that the weapons will not reach Timor-Leste as the country has taken action to prevent this kind of weapons’ distribution. (TP)
Horta asks Salsinha to surrender – PM Xanana Gusmao has reaffirmed PR Horta’s message that the deadline for Salsinha to surrender is Tuesday (11/3), and that military action would follow if he did not surrender. This message is very important to Salsinha and his group and should make them think about what they have done. This message may have come as a response to Salsinha’s letter stating that he would only surrender when PR Horta returned to Timor-Leste. Will Salsinha obey the call to surrender, or will he wait some more time? Let’s see who follows who: will the state follow Salsinha’s whims? Or will Salsinha follow the State’s demands. On the one hand, each party has a right to self-defence, but it is also important that each party contribute to the nation’s stability. Let’s wait for the implementation of the state’s decision to see what the intentions are: to kill, or to listen to each other? (TP)
Riak Leman: ‘State of Siege’ benefits community – The Social Democratic Party (PSD) member of NP, Riak Leman said that the ‘State of Siege’ should be extended as the situation is still unstable given that Salsinha has not as yet surrendered and that weapons distributed in 2006 are still at large. Mr. Leman also said that the ‘State of Siege’ does not discriminate against anyone but instead benefits all members of the community. (TP)
Ana Pessoa: “State of Siege” should not become ‘State of Normal’ – Fretilin member of National Parliament, Ana Pessoa said that the ‘State of Siege’ should not become a ‘State of Normal’. “The ‘State of Siege’ is implemented only when the nation is being threatened or in grave danger, this is why PR Ramos-Horta accepted the ‘State of Siege’ for a period of 48 hours,” said Ms. Pessoa in NP, Dili when PM Xanana presented the report of the 48 hours of the ‘State of Siege’. Ms Pessoa also said that there is something wrong with the country if people can only live in peace during a ‘State of Siege’. “If all the petitioners are calm, why are we continuing with the ‘State of Siege’? Because of Salsinha? In the 2006 crisis, PM Alkatiri did not authorize a demonstration, but PR Xanana said that to demonstrate is a right. Why didn’t he implement the ‘State of Siege’ at that time when people were burning houses — we have be honest, if there is threat to the nation, we [the government] should inform the people so that they can know the truth and not listen to rumours.” (DN)
JSMP Press Release 12 March 2008 Legal proceedings in Oecusse – February 2008 – Despite its relative isolation, the Oecusse District Court is well organised and in good repair. A two-storey building close to the local police station, the district offices and the local UNMIT outpost, it contains separate office facilities for judges, prosecutors and defenders, and is fully equipped for court administration. A generator on site ensures constant power, and air conditioning renders the building perfectly habitable.
This venue, however ready for service, is presently only scheduling cases for, at most, four days each month. In accordance with Directive 06/2007 on judicial personnel, a judge–Helder Antonio do Carmo – has been permanently appointed to Oecusse, as with each jurisdiction. A house has been built to accommodate Dr Carmo. Due to delays in furnishing the property, though, the judge is yet to take up residence here. JSMP has also learned that other properties acquired for the use of the prosecutor and public defender are, similarly, not yet ready for habitation due to ongoing renovations.
Instead, Oecusse’s dedicated judicial member travels to hear cases once a month, on this occasion accompanied by two other judges as required to hear cases as a panel. Where charges against a defendant may incur a sentence upward of five years’ in jail, the criminal procedure code stipulates the matter be heard by three judges together. Attending in February were judges Vitor Hugo Pardal and Constancio Basmery.
The court clerk, Vasco Kehi (assisted for the few days of this month’s sitting by an international counterpart), had scheduled four cases over as many days. Regrettably, only one matter was heard. One matter, due for a hearing on 28 February, did not proceed as police had not been able to locate the defendant to deliver a letter of notification. Parties in two other cases were not able to reach court as seasonal flooding had isolated their communities, and these cases were postponed to April.
Pedro Andrade, a public defender who has often argued cases in Oecusse, told JSMP that judges had, over preceding years, been strong advocates for the renovation of this court site, apparently despite some resistance from central administration. Dr Andrade also noted that recent graduates of legal training have increased the ranks of Timor’s public defenders to 16, with another four soon to complete their studies. It is hoped that this will ensure greater availability of defence lawyers at district locations.
Unfortunately, the cases for which Dr Andrade had travelled from Dili were not held. Police were sent, as waters subsided, to fetch the parties if possible, but in the mean time, the court continued through its docket. The first listed case, officially registered as 32/crms/2007/TDO, was a criminal matter, in which two defendants had been charged with stealing the victim’s roof, supposedly to satisfy a one-buffalo debt.
Testimony in this matter was heard on 25 February, and a witness interviewed. The Dili-based prosecutor, Domingos Barreto, presented indictments under section 406(1) of the Indonesian Penal Code, relating to destruction of property. Judge Carmo, handing down judgement two days later, found insufficient evidence in support of this case, and the defendants were acquitted without any financial liability to the court.
Dr Barreto laudably took time to explain the judgement to parties and warn against reprisals. Throughout the trial, care had been taken to translate proceedings into Baiqueno, the language of Oecusse. This entailed translation by judicial personnel between Portuguese and Tetum, and further translation to and from Baiqueno.
JSMP understands that Tetum is increasingly used in court at Oecusse, and that this is largely accepted by judges and lawyers. As no direct Baiqueno-Portuguese translator has yet been located and employed, the process of referring courtroom proceedings through Tetum is time-consuming and risks miscommunication to and between parties. JSMP staff have reported similar problems with translation into the local Macassae language at the Baucau court, and into Bunaq in the Suai jurisdiction.
The accused were ably represented by Mateus Nesi, a private lawyer with the local NGO Fundação Fatu Sinai Oecusse (FFSO). While in Oecusse, JSMP researchers met with representatives of FFSO and observed that formal mediation processes facilitated by the organization, often using legally trained ‘lian nain’, or local ritual leaders, were taking place with a frequency that far exceeded the current workload of the court.
JSMP also interviewed local community leaders who expressed concerns over the cost and time involved in taking matters to court. Travelling distance was also stated to be an issue – a problem now partially addressed in Suai by limited circuit hearings, whereby judges have, in some instances, travelled to remote locations to hear cases. Many saw dispute resolution in the community as preferable for practical, rather than explicitly cultural, reasons, even in respect of some serious criminal matters.
An unfortunate conclusion to proceedings at Oecusse district court last month saw parties from the delayed cases arrive with police escort only an hour after judicial personnel had departed overland for Dili immediately following the sole judgement. JSMP considers that this court is under-utilised at present, and calls for practical steps to be taken in order that more regular hearings take place. Delays as are now common in this jurisdiction undermine confidence in the formal system and, unsurprisingly, bolster support for alternative measures that may not be appropriate in all cases.
For further information please contact: Timotio de Deus Director, JSMP Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone No: 3323883