22 April 2009

East Timorese Deputy Prosecutor-General resigns over political interference in the judicial system

ETLJB 21 April 2009 SYDNEY - The East Timorese Deputy Prosecutor, Mr. Ivo Jorge Valente, is reported to have resigned from his position in protest over the recent appointment of Maucau lawyer, Paulo dos Remedios, as a Deputy Prosecutor-General. A leading national newspaper, Suara Timor Lorosa’e, reported today that Mr. Valente said the reason he had chosen to resign was because of political interference in the judicial system.

Mr dos Remedios, who is reported to have been a former legal adviser to President Ramos Horta, was appointed by an undated Presidential Decree last month. The decree states that, the President, having heard the Board of Public Prosecutions, appoints Dr. Paulo dos Remedios, a lawyer of recognised merit with more than 20 years of professional experience to official duty in the position of Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic.

In other dramatic developments in relation to the office of Prosecutor-General, newly appointed Prosecutor General, Ms. Ana Pessoa has recommended to President Horta (to whom she was previously married) the termination of two members of the Board of Public Prosecutions. Ms Pessoa was the Minister for State Administration during the Fretilin government and was also a member of the Fretilin Central Committee before resigning to take up her new post.

The two members of the Board of Public Prosecutions that Ms. Pessoa has recommended be terminated are former Judge of the Dili District Court and now member of parliament from Prime Minister Gusmao’s Council for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), Ms. Carmelita Moniz, and Education Minister, Cancio Freitas.

In her letter to the President, Prosecutor-General Pessoa stated that “both cases are now…in a situation of conflict …..setting up a situation of the violation of the principle of the separation of powers.

The Board of Public Prosecutions, national self-government of the prosecutors of the judiciary, ideally, should consist of trustworthy people who are not holders of other organs of sovereignty.”

Image: East Timor's Prosecutor-General, Ms. Ana Pessoa
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