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05 March 2009

No chance of fair trial for Australian accused in East Timor

No chance of fair trial in E Timor: brother BY TARA RAVENS 5/03/2009 1:00:00 AM
The brother of an Australian woman charged over the attempted assassination of East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta says it's ''absolutely impossible'' for his sister to get a fair trial.

Angelita Pires, a dual Australian-East Timorese citizen and the girlfriend of the rebel leader killed in the gunbattle, was the first person to be arrested over the attack.

The 42-year-old was one of three civilians and 25 former military personnel ordered to stand trial over the assassination attempt on February 11 last year.

Former soldier Marcelo Caetano faces 20 years' jail for shooting Mr Ramos Horta at his home.

Pires has maintained she played no part in the rebel attacks. Her boyfriend, rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, was shot dead in an ambush that left Mr Ramos Horta critically wounded, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped a separate ambush unharmed.

On Tuesday, East Timor's Attorney-General, Longinhos Monteiro, said Pires had been charged and faced up to three years in prison.

The exact nature of the charges are not known, but they are believed to include at least 19 counts of attempted homicide.

Antonio Pires said yesterday that the treatment of his sister, who has been confined to East Timor for more than a year, had been ''appalling''.

''We strongly believe that she was implicated because of her relationship with [Reinado], not because of anything she has done,'' he said.

''If that is the case, then every partner of a criminal would be in jail ... and that's bizarre.''

Mr Pires said there was little hope his sister would get a fair trail given the President's involvement in the case. He said Mr Ramos Horta had talked with many of the accused and publicly accused his sister.

Mr Pires said his sister was trying to stay positive.

He said the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had ignored repeated requests to keep his family informed. AAP
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East Timor Women - Raising awareness of the plight of women in Timor-Leste.

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