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23 October 2014

Dili Court hands down effective prison sentence in case of incest

ETLJB 23/10/2014 From the East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program: JSMP Dili Court hands down effective prison sentence in case of incest: JSMP believes that a special provision is necessary to deter such crime - On 22 September 2014 the Dili District Court conducted a hearing to announce its decision and sentenced the defendant IS to 14 years in prison after he was found guilty of committing the crime of sexual abuse characterised as incest in Dili District.

The public prosecutor alleged that the defendant, who is the step-father of the victim, forced the victim to hold his genitals and he rubbed his genitals on the victim’s genitals. These incidents started in 2013 and continued until 6 May 2014 and the defendant committed these acts five times against the victim. At the time the incidents took place the victim was 13 years old.

The public prosecutor charged the defendant with violating Article 177 of the Penal Code regarding the sexual abuse of a minor as well as Article 182 (d) on aggravation, in conjunction with Article 35 (b) of the Law Against Domestic Violence.

“Incest is very serious sexual violence because these acts violate the right of the child to be free from all forms of violence. Sexual abuse in the family is very damaging and deeply offends social values in the community. Therefore, a special mechanism is necessary to provide adequate deterrence to protect children in accordance with the social reality in Timor-Leste,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

The court found all of the alleged facts proven, based on the confession of the defendant, the statement of the victim and a medical report. The court accumulated the multiple crimes, because the defendant committed the offences on five occasions, and each crime was punished with 7 years in prison. The court also referred to the restrictive measures applied against the defendant, namely pre-trial detention, and the circumstances relating to this case, and the court decided to hand down a single sentence against the defendant of 14 years in prison.

 JSMP commends the court for considering the defendant’s actions in this case as constituting more than one crime and for considering the aggravating circumstances of abuse of family authority present in this case. However, JSMP is concerned that not all cases are as simple to prosecute as this case. Defendants do not always confess and in many cases the victim cannot obtain a medical report. It is also more difficult to prosecute cases of incest for victims who are over the age of 14 because these cases must rely on the crimes of rape (Article 172) or sexual coercion (Article 171) which require proof that force was used against the victim.

Because of this, JSMP believes the Penal Code should have a specific provision about incest which applies regardless of whether force is used and can apply to victims of any age. A separate provision for incest would recognise the very serious nature of these crimes and give better protection to victims of sexual violence.

This case was registered as Case No. 560/2013/TDD. Julio Gantes presided over the aforementioned hearing on behalf of the panel of judges. Felismino Cardoso represented the Public Prosecution Service and the defendant was represented by Public Defender Manuel Sarmento. Source: JMSP Press Release Press Release 23 September 2014

Security Gaps of Timor-Leste: Attracts Organised Crime

ETLJB 23/10/2014 From Fundasaun Mahein - Mahein’s voice No.87 will talk about the operation of organised crime in Timor-Leste and will discuss aspects such as: falsifying the state’s documents, the drug trade, and circulation of counterfeit money, money laundering and other crimes.

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) has in the past, in reports that published in 2010, alerted the public of the presence organised crime in Timor-Leste. In addition to this in 2013, FM also published a report about new forms of the organized crime in Timor-Leste. These reports have all reported on the organised form of crime, transnational crime and the international networks that pose a threat to the Timor-Leste public.

Evidence of this threat is shown by incidents such as the following. On the 5th . September 2014, security forces halted the operation to a group that distributed drugs such as morphine and Chrystal hydrochloride from suspects “A” and “CL”, these drugs were from Singapore and were connected with Timorese citizens.

A similar connected with organised crime in Timor-Leste occurred on the 26th September 2014. On this date the security forces of Timor-Leste arrested some Timorese citizens and foreigners in Dili charged with falsifying documents such as; baptism and the RDTL certificates, driver license and  vehicle inspection documents (STNK), electoral card and other official documents. The amount of profit these groups is said to be able to earn by falsifying these documents is estimated between US$100.00 to $500.00 per day.

FM has also reported in the past of the presence of Counterfeit money another indicator of the presence of organised crime in Timor-Leste (Osan Falsu 02/09/14). At that time FM alerted that all citizens should pay attention and identify the money that they are receiving is legal tender, whether via a contract or from the market or anywhere else.

FM’s analysis has in the past noted that the main weakness of the security situation in Timor-Leste is its fragility and the security forces lack of equipment and resources to detect and control movement across the border or through the nation’s airports. The large maritime area around Timor-Leste poses another threat as the Navy also lacks sufficient capacity to effectively patrol such a vast area.

It is FM's opinion that Timor-Leste risks becoming a major hub of organised crime in the region unless the security forces acknowledge the threats posed by organized crime’s and take action against it.

Recomendations:

1. Recommends to the security authorities of Timor-Leste that they need to share the intelligence information with all others including Timor's neighbor countries for an integrated approach of tackling terrorist and criminal groups at a regional level.

2. Prepare better plans in regards to patrolling Timor-Leste's borders in order to prevent criminal groups from infiltrating in the nation.

3. Recommends to the security authorities and the relevant ministries of Timor-Leste to conduct direct inspections of any international entrepreneurs that are conducting business activities in TImor-Leste, as well as foreign citizens that are working in Timor-Leste.

4. Recommends to the security authorities and the relevant ministries to make an integrated plan for the rigorous supervision of import/export activities at the airport, seaport and the border posts.  Source: 08 October 2014 http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/09/25/politika-krisaun-polisia-sientifika-investigasaun-kriminal-psik-parseiru-no-ameasa-ba-instituisaun-siguransa/

21 October 2014

Former Minister of Education tried at the Dili District Court for allegedly committing the crime of economic involvement in business

ETLJB 21/10/2014 From the East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program Press Release Dili District Court 6 October 2014 - Between 30 September – 2 October 2014 the Dili District Court conducted a hearing to examine the testimony of witnesses in relation to the crime of economic involvement in business involving defendants JC, the former Minister of Education and TdC, the National Director of Finance, Procurement, Logistics and Administration in the Ministry of Education.

The public prosecutor alleged that the two defendants directly intervened in a project for the installation of radios and televisions in the Ministry of Education when the first defendant held the post of Minister of Education. The project had a budget of US$1,403,000 for the purchase of goods for the installation of televisions and radios in all of the sub-districts for Ministry of Education programs. However, the goods provided were second-hand and did not have serial numbers, and the procurement process was not transparent.

“This project used a very large amount of funding, but there were no clear results. This demonstrates a serious management problem in public institutions. Therefore, JSMP encourages the public prosecutor to identify and investigate the relevant institutions that were involved in this project and hold them accountable”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

During the hearing, the defendant JC denied the public prosecutor’s allegation that, before the proposal was submitted, the defendant had already guaranteed a contract to an Australian company which won the tender. The defendant admitted that he met with the company in Australia before the proposal was initiated, however it was only when a comparative study was being conducted.

The prosecutor charged the defendant TdC, in his capacity of National Director, for signing the CPV before the proposal was drafted, and for preparing a payment request for this project without verifying the goods to ensure that these goods fulfilled the conditions set out in the contract.

The witnesses included PA, former Vice Minister of Education, and each of the department heads for finance, logistics and procurement who mostly testified that they did not know the details of the project because they were not involved in the entire process.

After hearing testimony from the defendants and witnesses the court adjourned the trial until 15 October 2014 to hear testimony from witnesses.

This hearing was presided over by a panel of judges comprising Jose Maria de Araujo, Francisca Marques Cabral and Julio Gantes. The Public Prosecution Service was represented by Gloria Alves and Jacinto Babo and the defendants were represented by Manuel Tilman and Jose Guterres. Source: JSMP Press Release 06 October 2014 

Oecusse District Court sentences two defendants to 18 years in prison for two different cases of aggravated murder

Map showing location of Oecusse
ETLJB 21/10/2014 From the East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program Oecusse District Court 10 October 2014 - On 29 September 2014 the Oecusse District Court, via the Dili District Court, conducted a hearing to announce its decision in two cases of aggravated murder involving the defendant OE who committed the crime against his wife and the defendant MB who committed the crime against his sister in law (wife of his brother). The court concluded the two trials and sentenced each of the defendants to 18 years in prison.

“JSMP welcomes the decision of the court to convict the two defendants. JSMP believes that these sentences are proportional to the actions of the defendants and this will encourage all members of the community to avoid using violent means to settle domestic disputes”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP has observed that the number of cases involving violence against women continues to increase, even though the courts have handed down heavy penalties against defendants in a number of cases. The crime of murder is a very serious offence. There is no justification for taking the life of another. The right to life is a fundamental human right and every citizen possesses this right. Therefore, the State must pursue every avenue possible to prevent the crime of murder in Timor-Leste, which mostly involves female victims.

In the case involving OE the public prosecutor alleged that on 4 January 2014 in Toep-Ana, Taiboco Village, Pante-Makassar, the defendant and the victim had an argument about cleaning weeds from a rice field and they continued to remove the weeds until late afternoon. However, when they got home, the defendant strangled the victim, took a piece of rope and tied it around the victim’s neck and the victim died there.

In the case involving MB, the public prosecutor alleged that on 3 March 2014, the victim accused the defendant of taking the memory card from her mobile phone. Therefore, the victim and her husband went to the home of the defendant to ask for the missing memory card. The defendant became angry and took a piece of wood in his two hands and struck the victim above the eye causing her to fall to the ground. The defendant then struck the victim once on the back of her neck. The victim’s husband did not do anything to stop the violence and assault carried out by the defendant against the victim. The victim’s husband only told the defendant not to strike the victim because she was already on the ground. After the incident the victim’s husband took her to hospital in an ambulance but one day later the victim died at the hospital.

The public prosecutor charged both defendants with violating Article 139 of the Timor-Leste Penal Code on aggravated murder.

In court the defendants admitted all of the facts described in the indictments of the public prosecutor.

In his final recommendations the public prosecutor requested the court to sentence the defendant OE to 20 years in prison because the defendant had been proven guilty of committing the crime of murder against his wife. In the case involving the defendant MB, the public prosecutor recommended a sentence of 24 years in prison because the defendant had committed a similar crime against his niece during Indonesian times.

The public defender requested the court to apply an appropriate and fair penalty against the defendants because the defendants admitted all of the facts.

On 29 September 2014 the Dili District Court conducted a hearing to announce its decision against the defendants and each of them were sentenced to 18 years in prison.

This hearing was presided over by judge. João Ribeiro. The public prosecution service was represented by Amrosio R. Freitas and the defendants were represented by public defender Calisto Tout.

“This press release is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of its Cooperative Agreement Number AID-486-A-13-00007 for the Ba Distrito program in Timor-Leste, implemented by the Lead Agency Counterpart International and its partners. The contents and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of JSMP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.” Source: JSMP Press Release 10 October 2014
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