02 March 2010

Dili court to deliver plot verdict

ADAM GARTRELL March 2, 2010 - 11:29AM AAP - Australian woman Angelita Pires will learn on Wednesday if she is to be jailed for allegedly plotting to assassinate East Timor's top two political leaders.

Pires is one of 28 people who have faced a seven-month trial for allegedly conspiring or attempting to assassinate President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in February 2008.

Pires, 44, was the lover of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead in a gunfight that left Ramos Horta critically wounded.

Prosecutors have called on the court to jail Pires for up to 20 years for being an "indirect author" of the plot.

They claim she convinced Reinado to kill the leaders and make it look like a coup.

They also claim she made several trips to Darwin to raise funds for Reinado's rebels in the lead-up to the attacks.

But Pires' Australian lawyers say prosecutors have completely failed to prove their case against her.

"To make matters worse the prosecution was not able to advance any motive for Angelita Pires or Alfredo Reinado to carry out an attempt on the life of the president," Pires' legal team, led by Darwin QC Jon Tippett, told the court in their closing statement last month.

"No motive and no plan, means in this case, no crime."

The evidence did not even prove there was any assassination plot at all, the lawyers said.

The defence has argued throughout the trial that Reinado and his men may have been lured to Dili to be executed.

Pires' brother Antonio, who lives in Darwin, said prosecutors were persisting with their "absurd" accusations even though they had no evidence.

"In any other court on the planet it would have been thrown out," he said.

The family will not travel to Dili for the verdict because they fear for their safety, he said.

After hearing from about 130 witnesses, the panel of three judges will deliver its verdict on Wednesday afternoon.

Ramos Horta has refused to testify at the trial.

© 2010 AAP

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