Dili, 03 June (Lusa) – The Timorese Minister for Justice is indignant with the police search of her husband's office, in the same building as her residence, as a result of complaint against him of falsifying documents and says she is a victim of “political persecution” at the highest levels of State.
“I have heard it said that the President of the Republic –Jose Ramos Horta – delivered some (alleged) evidence against me to the Prosecutor General of the Republic” (Ana Pessoa, who has a past linked to FRETILIN, the most represented party in the National Parliament, but who is in opposition), Lucia Lobato stated to Lusa today.
Upon being contacted by Lusa, Ramos-Horta categorically denied this statement and stressed he has nothing to do with the case, precisely because he is the Head of State.
It was a joint Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) and United Nations Police (UNPOL) operation, that included the breaking down of three doors to the office of Americo Lopes – married to Lucia Lobato for two decades – and the seizing of documents that were handed into the Office of the Prosecutorial Service.
According to Lucia Lobato, the complaint was presented by a former FRETILIN Minister Joao Alves to the Prosecutor General of the Republic and the Prosecutorial Service sought the authorization of the Court to proceed with a search.
“The PNTL have a head, it is commandant general (Longuinhos Monteiro, former Prosecutor General of the Republic), or the (current) Prosecutor General of the Republic (Ana Pessoa, the Justice Minister in the FRETILIN government),” Lucia Lobato ironically questioned: “I am awaiting the unraveling of this drama (…) and ready to be tried at any time.”
“Time will tell if the former Justice Minister holds something against me, but there are rumors abound, everyone knows that there exists a politically based persecution by the Prosecutor General,” she revealed.
Lucia Lobato went further: “The truth is that she – Ana Pessoa – comes from a party that was in government, was an MP in the National Parliament, strongly criticized this executive – the AMP coalition, led by Xanana Gusmao – and also the former Prosecutor General of the Republic” (Longuinhos Monteiro).
The Justice Minister is confident that she will end up seeing whether or not Ana Pessoa has undressed herself of her “FRETILIN uniform” whilst she is Prosecutor General of the Republic and gave an example: “My husband presented – previously – a compliant against Joao Alves for (allegedly) stealing fuel and until now the case has not progressed.”
“But when Joao Alves presented a complaint against my husband the investigation moved forward immediately,” she added.
Lusa tried to seek an immediate reaction from the Prosecutor General of the Republic, who declined to speak to the press due to the confidentiality covering judicial investigations.
This was the same with position taken by the UNPOL commander, the Portuguese Luis Carrilho.
“It would be good that the government, through the deputy prime minister Mario Carrascalao, order an inspection of the Ministry of Justice, because the doors are open,” said Lucia Lobato, stressing: “What I do not want is to be used for political ends, I condemn such attitudes.”
Resentfully she reinforced: “I am member of the government – for a little more than a year – I am a part of the leadership of a political party – The Social Democratic Party (PSD) – and will not accept that Timorese citizens who occupy high office in the State apparatus undertake political persecution.”
“I have the best will in the world to cooperate with justice, so that the country can live in peace because we suffered so much in order to gain indepenecence,” she assured.
She concluded: “Until proven otherwise, my husband continues to be a citizen with the rights the State guarantees to him.”
Americo Lopes is absent from Timor-Leste and Lucia Lobato challenged “the judicial actors” to “ exercise their powers in accordance with the law,” without resorting to “excessive” police action.
FRETILIN – which is calling for early legislative elections in 2010, because it considers the government of Xanana Gusmao ineffective and corrupt – has repeatedly taken public stances regarding the business dealings of the Justice Minister’s husband, a shareholder and director of the firm Pualaka Petroleo, which involve the State.
Translation of Article from Portuguese into English from LUSA
See also http://easttimorlegal.blogspot.com/2009/06/east-timor-justice-minister-lobato.html