26 October 2012

Missing police weapon turns up in Prime Minister's possession

East Timor's gun-toting police commissioner
ETLJB 26 October 2012 - On 30 August 2012, Tempo Semanal reported that a senior and high ranking officer in the PNTL with the initials OA had an FNC semi -automatic rifle taken from his car on the evening of 30 July 2012.  It was understood that OA was working for the police intelligence service and is also a member of a martial arts group and there may be some mysterious intra martial arts group conflict connection to the theft of this weapon.

The weapon went missing during the attendance by police, including senior officers, at a brothel in Dili that night.

Despite a lengthy investigation and numerous appeals from the police to the public for the stolen weapon to be returned to the police over the months since its theft,  the police were unable to recover the weapon.

Yesterday (25 October 2012), it was revealed by TVTL News that the missing weapon has turned up on the hands of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

TVTL reported that the Police Commissioner, Commandant General Longuinhos Monteiro said that he still did not know of the whereabouts of the lost weapon but had been informed  that the weapon is currently in the possession of the Prime Minister.

“That is even better (that the weapon is in the PM’s possession), and what is important is that it does not turn up later in the hands of some bad person.  The problem is not only that it was lost.  As I have said repeatedly, a rifle does not have feet to be able to walk away.  I cannot comment because I have not been informed yet nor has the weapon been handed over to the PNTL command.  It is like this.  There are two issues.  One; there is the responsibility of the officer who lost the weapon.  Two; that of the person who stole the weapon,” Longuinhos Monteiro said. He added that there should be two investigative processes for the lost weapon.  One will be with respect to the person who lost the weapon, and the other for the person who stole the weapon.

The Commander of the East Timor Defence Force had called for the immediate dismissal of the police commissioner following the incident.

Member of the Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security matters Committee B, Member of Parliament Duarte Nunes also claimed that the lost weapon is now in the possession of the PM.

“We cannot comment on the case of the lost weapon, because the weapon has been found and handed over to the Prime Minister,” Duarte Nunes MP said. According to MP Nunes the full report on the lost weapon has been completed and the investigative processes have not been exhausted.

With the revelation that the police weapon is in the possession of the Prime Minister, civil society law and justice organisations have demanded an investigation to uncover the truth of how the weapon fell into the Prime Minister's possession in orfer to dispel public concern.

According to a further report by Jornal Nacional Diario also published yesterday, Fundasaun HAK  (Human Rights Foundation), ANTI : The Alliance for an International Tribunal and Fundasaun Mahein have all demanded the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) explain to the public how it is that the weapon reported lost by a PNTL officer some months ago has turned up in the possession of the Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

Joao Almeida Fernandes, a researcher with Fundasaun Mahein told journalists from Jornal Nacional Diario when interviewed at his office in Balide last Wednesday 24 October that “[t]he weapon lost a few months ago has now turned up in the possession of the PM.  The PNTL and other entities responsible for this matter must explain to the public the full circumstances surrounding this incident, so that the  public can know the truth as to how the investigation has proceeded and how the weapon has now turned up in the possession of the PM, so as to dispel the general public’s concern regarding this issue.”

Author: Warren L. Wright BA LLB, Editor  ETLJB Sources: (as cited)

Related stories
PNTL Loses Weapons: Commander Longuinos Monteiro In Charge
Management and Mismanagement of Police Weapons
East Timor Legal News 10 September 2012 (Police have not yet found missing gun)
Military chief calls for immediate dismissal of Police Commissioner
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