20 February 2010

Plot to vilify Timor rebel's lover cited

The Age Plot to vilify Timor rebel's lover cited LINDSAY MURDOCH February 20, 2010 Lawyers representing Angelita Pires, the lover of East Timor's slain rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, say she has been ''viciously vilified'' by people in positions of power.

The lawyers have also described the refusal of East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta to testify in person at her trial in Dili District Court as a ''serious denial of justice''.

In a final submission to judges hearing charges against her, the lawyers said yesterday the court's decision to allow Mr Ramos Horta to respond to questions in writing denied Pires the chance to test his evidence by cross-examination.

Prosecutors have sought up to 20 years' jail for 28 accused, including Pires, over the alleged attempted assassination of Mr Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in 2008.

Prosecutor Felismeno Cardoso said Angelita Pires was a key player in the plot. ''In her conversation with Angelita's subordinate, Angelita said that the two men, the President and the Prime Minister, must be killed and the murders made to look like a coup,'' he said.

''Angelita had great influence on Alfredo Reinado and he trusted her more than anyone.''

Pires' defence team, led by Darwin barrister Jon Tippett, QC, told the judges there had been ''no evidence or even barely credible evidence'' capable of supporting any of the criminal allegations against her.

The lawyers said ''wildly flawed allegations'' had been ''thrown about by the prosecution like rubbish in the wind''. They said ballistics and medical evidence had destroyed the prosecution case that Reinado went to Mr Ramos Horta's house to attack him.

The submission referred to a conclusion by a director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Stephen Cordner, that Reinado and one his men, Leopoldino Exposto, were shot at close range, contradicting the official version that they were shot during a firefight at a distance of 20 to 30 metres. It said Australian Federal Police ballistics tests disproved the official version that security guard Francisco Lino Marcal shot Reinado and Exposto.

The lawyers said the tests showed that Reinado and Exposto were shot dead by different weapons, neither of them of the type possessed by Marcal. The weapons have not been found.

The submission alleges deficiencies in the evidence and the investigation, including that the court did not call any crime scene examiners, key evidence was tampered with, including Reinado's mobile telephone, the crime scene was inadequately secured and important evidence not preserved.

It said evidence indicated that unknown killers probably had a warning that Reinado would be at Mr Ramos Horta's house the morning of the deaths. Mr Ramos Horta was shot and seriously wounded at the front of his house but recovered after spending weeks in Royal Darwin Hospital. Mr Xanana escaped unhurt in a separate attack.

Pires' lawyers said the contact that did take place between her and Reinado before the attacks ''disclose nothing more than an amorous relationship''.

The three judges have 30 days to deliver their verdict. Their finding could stir new unrest in East Timor. Reinado, who received military training in Australia, was a cult figure for many of East Timor's youth.

No comments: