10 December 2009

Jose Belo, Director Tempo Semanal Called to Court on 11 February 08 Case

Wednesday, 9 December 2009 TEMPO SEMANAL TVThe Dili District Court has instructed Tempo Semanal Director Jose Antonio Belo to testify on the case 11 of Fevruary 2008 in which Major Alfredo Reinado was killed, President Ramos-Horta seriously injured, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao attacked. The court sent two subpoenas to appear before the Court. Upon receiving the first Jose Antonio Belo refused to appear before the Court, invoking his rights as a journalist to protect his sources. Upon receiving the second notification Jose Antonio Belo appeared before the court on 27 November 2009. The court room was packed with suspects in regards to the 11 February 2008 case, including Timorese born and Australian raised Angela Pires. Mr. Belo took the witness stand with a microphone at hand. Leading Judge Basmeri asked Mr. Belo why he does not want to cooperate with the judicial system; Mr. Belo says that he is prepared to cooperate as long as the process is not in breach with the professional journalists' code of ethics.

Subsequently, the Prosecutor Dr. Filomeno Cardoso and the Braziilian Defence Lawyer argued over whether a journalist should or not be required to present their evidence to the court. Dr. Cardoso insisted to put questions to Mr. Belo and he has right to refuse to answer questions if he wishes to.

However, the defence counsel suggested that the law which protected the right not to give any testimony before the court by religious people, health workers, bankers, lawyers and alos journalists was applicable to the matter.

When Dr. Basmeri asked Mr. Belo whether he is willing to give testamony Mr. Belo replied that, "As a journalist I don't want to breach my code of ethics so I refuse to give any testimony but if it's necessary I think the government and the law workers have to change the law then I can come and give my testimony here." The Judge let Mr. Belo go without providing any testimony to the court.

In April 2008 Jose belo was notified to appeared before the criminal police investigors to be investigated over his involvement regarding an interview with Gastao Salsinha by phone while he was on the run. The story was produced by Mark Davids from SBS Dateline programme.

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