07 May 2009

Aussie faces East Timor conspiracy trial

6 May 2009, 4:52 pm - The brother of an Australian woman accused of conspiring to assassinate East Timor's president and prime minister says he cannot believe the case is actually going to trial.

Angelita Pires, a dual Australian-East Timorese citizen, was the first person to be arrested over the February 2008 attacks.

The 42-year-old was then the girlfriend of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead in an ambush that left President Jose Ramos Horta critically wounded.

Ms Pires says she played no part in the rebel attacks, but East Timorese authorities last week announced she would face trial on July 13.

Her brother, Antonio Pires, who lives in Darwin, does not believe the trial will be fair.

"I have a sense of disbelief that the case is actually going ahead, to start with," he told AAP.

"I just didn't think they could actually make up a case based on what's happened."

Mr Pires said he was dismayed by the way the authorities announced the trial date: on national television, before Ms Pires or her lawyers were informed.

Jon Tippet QC, the lead Australian counsel for Ms Pires, echoed those concerns.

"It does not instil confidence in the rule of law and the right to a fair trial in the new Democratic Republic of East Timor ," Mr Tippet said.

Mr Tippett said he intended to complain to the president of East Timor's Court of Appeal about the way the announcement was handled.

"All future decisions about the conduct of the trial must be given to the parties before the information is released to the press," he said.

"The Australian taxpayer has contributed significantly to the establishment and operation of the East Timorese justice system and this case is a test of that system's capacity to ensure that Angelita Pires, an Australian citizen, receives a fair trial."

Mr Tippett said the case against his client had no substance.

Image added by ETLJB: Angelita Pires.

No comments: