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13 March 2009

Political Interference by Xanana with Timor-Leste Judiciary

PRM-LUSA News journal Dili, 12 March (LUSA) – the Judiciary in Timor-Leste “is not independent”, was the accusation this week from the Portuguese Judge Ivo Rosa in an interview in LUSA in Dili upon leaving the country.

“My exit means that the judiciary in Timor-Leste is not yet independent”, stated Ivo Rosa in an interview evaluating his two years work in Timor-Leste. Ivo Rosa left Timor-Leste on Tuesday after months of conflict with the Timorese Superior Council for the Judiciary (SCJ).

“I am only going precisely because of this, because court decisions are not respected” explained the judge, who was an international judge in the court of appeal. “The SCJ has an extensive political composition and my leaving reflects this reality”, added Ivo Rosa during his last hours before leaving.

Ivo Rosa alluded to the fact that the SCJ, in the absence of the Judge President Claudio Ximenes for reasons of illness, has for some months been directed by the lawyer DIonisio Babo, Secretary General for the CNRT Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s party.

The SCJ “failed” the Portuguese judge in 2008, deciding not to renew Ivo Rosa’s contract which expired the end of 2008.

The “failing” of the Portuguese judge took place n the same day as the National Parliament received notification of a ruling by the Court of Appeal that decided that some aspects of the 2008 revised budget were unconstitutional.

“ The decision of the SCJ is part of an evaluation process of all of the judges of the country, national and international.” Explained Dionisio Babo to LUSA at the time.

“The non-renovation of Judge Ivo Rosa’s contract has nothing to do with the ruling that he wrote,” the Vice President of the SCJ underlined today when contacted to comment on the accusations made by the Portuguese judge.,

Dionisio Babo told LUSA that he laments “that the judge had not made these statements whilst he occupied his position, because it might have contributes to correct what he might have thought was ill in the judicial system. Ivo Rosa appealed the decision of the SCJ and the court agreed with him, although the judge accursed the Council of not having respected the decision that had agreed with him. “There was an interim decision which suspended the efficacy of the decision and which exonerated me. And immediately after this the SCJ proffered a new decision, with new manipulations, appealing on the grounds of defamation and factual falsehoods attempting to justify and fundament an illegal act of the non-renewal of the contract.

“I impugned this new decision by the SCJ but once again the Council resorted to new tricks which are not appropriate for a Constitutional body,” added the Judge. “The SJC tried to create difficulties for the court to be able to act openly with mechanisms to impede the judges who were going to proffer a decision, by capturing them as witnesses,” explained the judge.

Dioniso Babo responded to these allegations, merely referring that the Court of Appeal declared on the 27th of February that Judge Ivo Rosa had lost his position, thereby extinguishing his claim “against the previous decision of the SCJ. As far as Ivo Rosa is concerned, within the Timorese leadership exists “this ignorance of what is a judiciary in a country.”

“The judiciary is a factor for stability in a country and is also a factor for development, to guarantee the rights of investors and to give such guarantees for example “affirmed the judge to LUSA”.

In the meantime, his case reveals that the judiciary face off politicians who think that it has to exist but hat it also has to be controlled.”

“However I don’t believe that this theory will win out because the Timorese judges are well based in the concepts of what is the judiciary and the judicial system,” he concluded.

The Portuguese judge “has no idea “ of who will replace him.

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