02 January 2010

Family of slain man seeks independent investigation of police shooting in Timor

Timor Post 30th December 2009 (Translation from Tetum) FAMILY DEMANDS INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION TEAM Dili – During this 2009 holiday season, the population of Dili were startled by the news that young Baldir Cesar do Nascimento Lebre Correia, aged 25, was killed by a policeman’s bullet, from the PNTL, which sadly is the very same institution that is supposed to protect the people.

Kuka, known by his friends from the cultural performance group Lé-Zeaval and his family as Baldir, is now a memory, after his life was taken on th early hours of Tuesday morning, following police intervention on the night before, Monday, about 11 o'clock, during a physical confrontation that took place in New Delta Comoro. The actions of the police during the incident are still to be ascertained. It will be needed in order to bring the situation to a calm.

Despite there being witnesses it is still uncertainty what happened at the party. It is however known that people at the party were attacked by a group of party crashers.

There were three attempts to attack and finally they managed to enter. Due to the situation, the police station from Comoro intervened.

According to some sources, they said that soon after arriving the police began firing shots directly into crowd, and Kuka was shot in the stomach with the bullet exiting through the back. The same bullet hit another youngster, who is in Unit Intensive Care, at the Guido Valadares National Hospital (HNGV).

Kuka was not taken immediately to the hospital, because the party venue New Delta was blocked by police officers. He could only be taken to the hospital at about midnight, but was then already in a coma.

Dr. Nilton Tilman, who attended to the victim, said he was already in a coma when he arrived at the hospital, but despite this he tried to undertake an emergency operation. He attempted to save him but Kuka could not be saved and died on the operating table during the operation.

HNGV had said that the victim, Kuca’s injuries were as a result of a stabbing, but doctor Nilton said his injuries were caused by a bullet. The bullet hit the upper right part of his stomach and exited through the back of the hips.

When the victim arrived at the hospital his blood pressure was very low, meaning he had lost a lot of blood. When doctor Nilton started operating he had already lost almost three liters of blood, so he had almost no blood in his veins.

According to the autopsy the spleen of the victim was injured, the large intestine was perforated, the kidney on the left side was ruptured and the spine had damaged.

Nilton who works at the Department of Surgery HNGV said the shot was fired from about three meters distance and for this reason the bullet left his body and could again hit another person.

INDEPENDENT TEAM

The older brother of the deceased, Lino Correia, said his younger brother died because the police shot him.

He demands an investigation to find out the truth. He said that as far as he could see the police have forgotten about other similar incidents, such as the recent one at Delta Nova, because this is not the first time this has happened.

For this reason he demands an investigation, but not one by the PNTL or any of its officers. It needs to be an independent team, so that the truth is ascertained. "Otherwise, if the police do the investigation, they will only blame it on the victims." And so the people will continue to be the victims, while the institution and its officers remain unreformed," said a saddened Lino, home of the deceased in Bemori last night.

Lino also called for police to follow the law so that they perform their role in a professional way, such as first using tear gas, then rubber bullets, and as a last resort to defend themselves to shoot to the feet as a warning “The actions of the police were inhumane," said Lino.

He said that the police said a day later, that Kuka died but not because of a bullet but rather because of something else. The victim's family vows to continue and to take this case to court to seek the truth.

For this reason, the victim's family was to meet yesterday with the Vice-President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, to demand an investigation of the police officer who targeted the victim.

During the meeting between Vicente Guterres and the family of the deceased Baldir, Guterres stressed that there had to be a fair investigation to find out what the fundamental reason was for the shooting of the victim.

"There must be a thorough investigation to understand how something like this can happen, find out who shot, to follow the path that the state must follow," said Vicente.

The defense and security (committee) have to look at this case, because this has happened many times.

"I think the Defense and Security Committee has to look at this, at the police reaction in these cases, practically legally using big weapons and ammunition, and so we have to see how the Government can react without using these weapons, but what else can be used to neutralize certain situations," said Vicente.

Vincente added that the officers can use their weapons to react to situations, but cannot use the weapons to take the lives of people.

"I think this is what we must demand from our government, to used weapons only to neutralize, but not to kill someone, I think it is this that we must demand that our government fix, this is the crux of what must be looked at, "said Vicente.

INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS

When interviewed, the Commander of the National Investigation Police, Inspector Eugenio Pereira, said the motive for the shooting is still unknown. Thus, for their part of the investigation team is still waiting for the autopsy process and questioning of other parties. Only then will they know who fired the shot and from which gun the shot was fired.

Commander Eugenio explained that this confrontation, according to what the Police Investigators have ascertained thus far, there were a group armed with sharp objects such as knives, who started attacking the group that was at the party at the Nova Delta Hall.

Police statements of the incident, as well as other facts have been made public that confirm thus far ascertained that there was one wounded and one deceased on arrival at hospital.

Eugenio also said that the general command had ensured that the criminal investigation, which is currently ongoing, be commenced and last week procedures were taken to ensure that the crime scene was sealed off.

"We've started working on this process this morning, and have already secured the crime scene, we have investigated the crime scene, collected the facts, are ensuring they are accurate and will then refer to the foprmal process of investigation," said Eugenio reporters.

In another spot, the police commander of Dili, Inspector Pedro Belo said to TVTL that the police officer who fired the shot, is currently being held in a police cell in order to continue the investigation process.

Similarly, the police have arrested two persons suspected of being responsible for the physical confrontation at Delta Nova.

Similarly, the Secretary of State for Security Francisco Guterres, said that if as a result of the investigations any police officer is found guilty then he will be subjected to a heavy penalty.

RECEIVED WITH HONORS

Baldir was also a senior member of the group Le-Zeaval, and after the autopsy on HNGV, the body was received with honors by his peers last night at his residence in Bemori. At the family home, members of the group Le-Zeavel alternated to stay by body in wait for burial.

Le-Zeaval was founded in 1998 in Jogya, Indonesia. In this group Le-Zeaval (which translates to four poles) Baldir took with him to his final moments.

This group participated in the Christmas Gathering held by the Ministry for Social Solidarity, held in Dili at the GMT, last Monday afternoon, 28/12, where he also danced. When the time came, Baldir was was at the party as an invited guest.

According to Lino, the brother of the victim, Baldir was lazy to go out or go out to parties. It was a burden for him, but because he was invited by a colleague, and because he was also looking for ways to go to the ceremony, he agreed to go out that night. Lino did not expect his younger brother to become a victim in this tragedy. When he heard that Baldir was in the hospital he went there immediately. According to some conversations he heard later, his brother shouted, "it really hurts." Lino has followed all his suffering, till he died and said his brother stopped breathing at about 1:20 on 29 November.

Baldir left a brother and five smaller, three girls and two boys, he is the son of Etelvina Correia and Julio Lebre Correia. (ENDS)
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