05 March 2010

Statement by Ms Angelita Pires following her acquittal

3 March 2010

Dili,  Timor-Leste

1.      I am extremely relieved to be exonerated by the court of any involvement in the events of 11 February 2008. My life has been on hold for two years and it has been an enormously stressful and emotional time for me. Throughout that period I have been fortunate to have had the enduring support and love of my family in particular my mother and my brother Antonio and  of close friends such as Robert Wesley Smith and Jonathan Dwyer who have given me the strength, through my darkest hours, to continue in my fight to clear my name. I will be forever grateful for their unyielding determination to achieve justice in my case and for their preparedness to stand beside me without question from the beginning to the end.

2.      I want to thank the Australian Government, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and the Attorney-General’s Department for their support and decision to grant me the necessary financial assistance. I want to thank the Australian Embassy in Dili and in particular to express my gratitude to the Australian Consul Mr. Brian Daimond for the care and assistance given me to and my legal team .

3.      I want to express my profound appreciation to my legal team. Dr Zeni Arndt who unfortunately cannot be here today. Dr George da Silva who agreed to step into her place. My Australian legal counsels, Mr. Jon Tippett QC and Mr Peter Maley. Also a special thank you to Dr Andre Fernandes for his cooperation. I could not have had a more professional and dedicated group of lawyers working on my behalf. I also want to express heartfelt thanks to my support staff, translators and administrative staff.

4.      I want to also thank the national and international media who continued to publically highlight the many injustices that I have experienced since the dark days of February 2008. They brought my story to the world and ensured that the truth was there for all to see. Their work and input is vital and I encourage them to continue to expose the many injustices currently imposed upon my people.

5.      Many people in Timor Leste, Australia and around the world have offered their support since I was accused. Their expressions of solidarity have given me great comfort over the many months of my trial. There are too many to name but to all of you, thank you so much.

6.         I have learnt that liberty is one of the most important things that an individual can possess. I am grateful to the judges who heard my case for returning mine to me. Today is the most important day of my life. I have rightfully regained my freedom. It is also one of the most important days for the people and the justice system of Timor Leste. My struggle has been as much about the right to justice of the Timorese people, as it has been about my liberty. I have won, but so have the people of this country and the Timorese abroad who regard Timor Leste as home. Major Alfredo Reinado believed in equality for all Timorese. He died holding that idea as most dear to him. This day is about his struggle for truth and justice for all Timorese people. Viva Major Alfredo! Viva the people!

Angelita Pires

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