10 January 2009

East Timor Rebel Family Find Asylum In Australia

The West Australian January 9, 2008 East Timor Rebel Family Find Asylum In Australia Nick Butterly And Joe Stolley in Canberra - The wife and children of slain East Timorese rebel leader Alfredo Reinado have been granted permanent residency in Australia after pleading with the Rudd Government to grant them political asylum.

Maria Reinado fled to Perth with her children in 2006 after her husband, an officer in the East Timorese army, deserted his military barracks and took to the hills with a group of disaffected soldiers in opposition to the then government of Mari Alkatiri and Australian peacekeeping forces.

The charismatic soldier was killed while leading an assault on the home of East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta as part of a botched coup attempt in February last year.

President Ramos-Horta was shot several times during the shoot-out and was rushed to Darwin for emergency medical treatment.

The day before the attack, Mr Reinado was said to have called his wife in Perth and made her promise she would always look after herself and their children. He had previously kept in close contact with her.

The West Australian understands Ms Reinado and three of her children have been issued humanitarian visas, while the fourth and youngest child is likely to be granted a visa soon.

It is believed she feared she could face retribution for her husband's actions if she was forced to return to Dili.

"Ms Maria Reinado's request for ministerial intervention for her and three of her children has been finalised," an Immigration Department spokesman said yesterday.

"The request for the youngest child is still under consideration."

The Reinados originally came to WA in the 1990s as refugees fleeing the Indonesian army. Mr Reinado worked in a shipyard and was reputed to be a fiercely loyal West Coast Eagles supporter, even after the couple returned to their homeland.

"Say hello to West Coast for me," Mr Alfredo told a television reporter from his mountain hideout after the team won the 2006 flag.

Mr Reinado's lover in East Timor, Angelita Pires, a dual Australian-East Timorese citizen, has had her Australian passport confiscated by East Timorese authorities amid investigations into whether she knew Mr Reinado was planning the attack.

Ms Pires, who is fighting to return to Australia, has claimed she was carrying Mr Reinado's child at the time of the assault but miscarried because of the stress placed on her by the incident.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans refused to confirm whether the Reinado family had been issued visas.

"For privacy reasons the Minister does not comment on the detail of individual cases," the spokesman said.

"This has been a longstanding practice of governments of both political persuasions."

Image added by ETLJB - Alfredo graffit in Dili, East Timor.

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