31 August 2011

More violence in Covalima district, two weeks after a PNTL member was killed and 70 houses were burned down in the sub-district of Zumalai



Independente 29 August 2011 - On Saturday, a police officer and four civilians were injured when an unidentified civilian group attacked a district police team at a wedding party in the sub-district of Kamanasa, Covalima District Police Commander Inacio Saldanha said.

Mr Saldanha said the victims were yesterday receiving medical treatment at the Suai hospital.

Police brought the situation under control and were still investigating the motive behind the conflict, he said.

“Who did it and does it have any relation to the case of Zumalai or not? We will see after the investigation process,” he told INDEPENDENTE last night.

A Kamanasa resident said the civilian group started the conflict by attacking the police officer who was injured.

Meanwhile, 14 men accused of involvement in the violence in Zumalai sub-district, Covalima, are in Dili’s Becora jail awaiting court, head of PNTL’s Criminal Investigation Service Calisto Gonzaga said.

A PNTL member was killed early this month after attempting to stop the fighting between two youth groups in Zumalai.

On the night of the late-afternoon conflict, unknown offenders burned down people’s houses.

“At the moment (the 14 men) are in Becora prison. We are still looking for complete evidence (to bring them to court),” Mr Gonzaga told INDEPENDENTE last week.

Police were also waiting for formal orders from court to arrest others suspected of involvement in the violence, he said.

Meanwhile, there were reports of recent violence between two groups in Baucau but Mr Gonzaga said his department had not received a formal report from the district.

A woman suffered head injuries when police intervened in a conflict between two groups from Lamagua and Centra sub-villages in the village of Bahu, Baucau district, on Saturday, August 20.

The victim, Odete Varelha, handed a letter of complaint against the police to the national parliament last Thursday.

Ms Varelha said, after the conflict between the two groups, the Baucau District Police commander asked residents not to walk on or sit down near the street from 5pm until the morning.

But she said she was not aware of the curfew announcement and police bashed her after she sat down in front of her house.

“We did not know (where) the curfew state (announcement came from),” Ms Varelha told journalists at the parliament building.

She said she had to report the incident to the parliament because police bashed many innocent people, including other women and elderly men.

Ms Varelha’s husband, police officer Nuno dos Reis, accompanied his wife to the parliament.

Mr Reis said he wanted to see justice.

(Original published in English in Jornal Independente)

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