12 December 2013

Oecusse District Court sentences defendant in case of aggravated murder to 18 years imprisonment



ETLJB 12 December 2013 - A man who slashed the throat of a woman and stabbed her in the back after dragging her into the forest has been sentenced to 18 years jail. The text of the English translation of the JSMP report of this horrifying case follows.

 On 6 December 2013 the Oecusse District Court, at a hearing held at the Dili District Court, sentenced the defendant in a case of aggravated murder to 18 years imprisonment. The murder occurred on 13 January 2013 in Oecusse District.

This case fell within the jurisdiction of the Oecusse District Court, however because the defendant was being held in pretrial detention in Becora and the judicial actors were in Dili, the decision was handed down at the Dili District Court.

During the trial, the public prosecutor alleged that on 13 January 2013 at approximately 1pm the defendant was heading home from the market with the victim.  On the way the victim told the defendant that she (the victim) wanted to buy some tobacco.  Then the defendant took out four packets of tobacco and gave one to the victim, however the victim suddenly shouted out that the defendant was harassing her.

In Oecusse District Court on 19 November 2013, the public prosecutor’s final submissions alleged that the defendant murdered the victim because the victim shouted out that the defendant wanted to harass her or intended her harm.

Although there was no evidence presented to the court that the  defendant  intended to or had sexually assaulted the victim, the public prosecutor alleged that the defendant had intended to sexually assault the victim Therefore, the public prosecutor asked  the court to hand down a punishment proportional to the seriousness of the crime committed.

The court concluded the matter based on the testimony of the defendant that he had dragged the victim into the forest, then slashed her throat, and stabbed her in the back causing the victim to die at the scene of the crime.

“JSMP notes that violence against women continues to increase every day. Many women suffer domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, mistreatment and other forms of violence, and lose their lives just because they want to defend and protect their integrity and dignity, and this is extremely regrettable, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

JSMP believes that there was no justifiable reason for the defendant to kill the victim in such a sadistic/cruel way just because she screamed out.

There are strong reasons to suspect that before the defendant killed the victim he raped her, or the defendant killed the victim because she resisted or refused his demands.

“To uncover the  motive for the crime and the defendant’s  intentions, the police and the public prosecutor should have organized for an autopsy of the victim’s body to uncover facts related to the crime, given  there were no witnesses”, said the Executive Director of JSMP Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

This case was registered as Case No.  91/C.Ord//2013/TDO. The hearing was presided over by  judge João Riberio (Judge Administrator of Oecusse District Court) the Public Prosecution Service was represented by Mateus Nessi and the defendant  was represented by public defender Afonso Fatima Gomes (trainee). Source: JSMP Press Release 9 December 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright 

Suai District Court sentences perpetrator to 12 years imprisonment for attempted murder characterised as domestic violence and arson

11 December 2013

Bringing Justice to the People in Timor Leste



ETLJB 11 December 2013 - Maliana –  A father’s assault on his eight-year old daughter. Five violent deaths rooted in a land dispute between family members. A conflict involving religious differences results in homes being destroyed and neighbors in fear for their lives. Since these three crimes happened in Maliana, trying the cases would normally require all those involved to travel three and half hours on often barely passable to reach the local district court in Suai.

Instead, these and nine other cases were heard in a makeshift courtroom at Maliana’s Municipality Building from 25-27 November as part of a mobile court programme that brings Timor-Leste’s justice system to people living in remote areas.

”Bad road conditions, the lack of money for transportation, and the remoteness of some areas hamper our efforts to get defendants, victims and witnesses to the court in Suai,” said Álvaro Maria Freitas, Suai Judge Administrator. “With the mobile court, we can facilitate communities’ access to justice, resolve pending cases and reduce backlogs.”

Support for the mobile court initiative has been provided by UNDP’s Justice System Programme (JSP) since being launched in 2010. It is part the JSP’s efforts to help citizens understand their rights and ensure they know how to access those rights.

Currently, the four district courts of Dili, Baucau, Oecussi and Suai cover Timor-Leste’s 13 districts. Tough terrains, transportation and limited financial resources often make it difficult for people in remote areas to reach their local district court.

Support for the mobile court initiative has been provided by UNDP’s Justice System Programme (JSP) since being launched in 2010. It is part the JSP’s efforts to help citizens understand their rights and ensure they know how to access those rights. The project also includes legal outreach sessions which are held throughout the country to raise communities’ awareness of their rights and of the mechanisms in place to ensure they can realize those rights, ultimately increasing access to justice for the population.

In the last mobile court session of the year, defendants, victims and community members attended hearings both of simple cases presided over by a single judge, and of more complex cases requiring a trial panel of three judges.

“When community members are able to attend the sessions and see how the Court works, their trust in the formal justice increases”, said Florencia Freitas, Suai District Court Judge.  “People feel encouraged to come forward and give their testimony after attending the hearings”.

 “Mobile justice is a wonderful example of a simple solution to the problems people in remote areas face in going to court,” said Mikiko Tanaka, UNDP’s Country Director. “UNDP is pleased to have supported this issue and will continue to provide technical, financial and logistical support to the government until such time as it is ready to fully take on the initiative.”

For more information, please contact Slava Mysak, Access to Justice Advisor, at slava.mysak@undp.org.

About UNDP: UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. In Timor-Leste, UNDP provides technical advice and assistance to build strong and capable public institutions at national and sub-national levels in justice, parliament, human rights, anti-corruption, police
economic development, environmental management and disaster risk management that bring development, peace and justice to the population and reach out to the poor and vulnerable sections of society.

About UNDP’s Justice System Programme: The Justice System Programme (JSP) aims to support Timorese justice institutions to provide a fair, efficient and effective justice system for all in Timor-Leste, and improve access to justice for the poor and disadvantaged. The JSP works in partnership with the courts, the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Public Defender’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. The JSP’s current phase was launched in 2008 and concluded in October 2013. A new project document for the next phase (2014-2018) is due to be signed with the national stakeholders. The JSP was first launched in 2003 and is supported by the Governments of Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Australia and Brazil. Source: UNDP Press Release 6/12/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

10 December 2013

Suai District Court sentences perpetrator to 12 years imprisonment for attempted murder characterised as domestic violence and arson



ETLJB 10 December 2013 JSMP has released the English translation of its report on a case of attempted murder characterised as domestic violence and arson that was heard in the Suai District Court. The text of the English translation follows.

On 4 December 2013 the Suai District Court sentenced the defendant JJ to 12 years imprisonment for committing the crime of attempted murder against his wife and the crime of the burning his home on 29 May 2013 in Suai.

The public prosecutor alleged that on the evening of 29 May 2013 the defendant used a machete to slash the victim twice on the shoulder and fingers.  In addition the defendant also burned down their house with kerosene. The aforementioned action caused the victim to lose the normal functioning of two fingers.

In relation to these two crimes the public prosecutor charged the defendant for violating Article 23 of the Penal Code regarding attempts to commit a crime as well as Article 138 of the Penal Code on murder and Article 263 of the Penal Code on arson.

“JSMP once again notes the commitment and seriousness of the court in applying appropriate punishments against perpetrators of domestic violence in accordance with the character and seriousness of the crimes committed. This is a major development in the justice system, because as we know domestic violence often has very serious psychological implications for the victim”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

During the trial the defendant admitted all of the facts alleged against him and expressed his regret and stated that they have since reconciled in accordance with traditional practices. These facts were then corroborated by the victim.

Based on the facts and the mitigating circumstances of the case, the court then concluded the matter and sentenced the defendant to 12 years imprisonment, in accordance with the final recommendations of the public prosecutor.

The sentence of 12 years imprisonment was an accumulation of the crime of attempted murder and arson, which resulted in sentences of 5 and 9 years imprisonment that should have resulted in a sentence of 14 years imprisonment. However the court sentenced the defendant to 12 years imprisonment because he cooperated with the court, expressed regret, has reconciled with the victim and promised not to reoffend in the future.

This case was registered as Case No. 217/PEN/2013 TDS. The hearing was presided over by judge Costãncio Barros Basmery. The Public Prosecution Service was represented by Felismino Garcia Cardoso and the defendant was represented by lawyer Manuel Amaral (trainee) from the Office of the Public Defender. Source: JSMP Press Release 05 December 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

Oecusse District Court sentences defendant in case of aggravated murder to 18 years imprisonment
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