Tempo Semanal Tuesday, 24 August 2010 Breaking News: Ramos-Horta Pardons Attackers - The President of Timor-Leste Jose Ramos-Horta has pardoned for FALINTIL-FDTL officer Gastao Salsinha and his colleagues and the members of now deceased rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, including (Marcelo Caetano and Amaro Susar).
Ex-FALINTIL and former PNTL member of Reinado group - Amaro Susar waves on his surrender
Salsinha was the Spokesman for the FALINTIL-FDTL Petitioners in 2006-2008. The Petitioners were known and the group of "594" although their members were much less. This group left the defence force protesting conditions of service in the defence force and east-west discrimination. The resulting protests degraded into violence the now infamous Crisis of 2006 started on 28 April 2006, lasting until the death of Major Alfredo on 11 February 2008 when he Salsinha and colleagues lead attacks on President Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. Ramos-Horta was badly wounded while Gusmao escaped unhurt.
Ironically the pardon was published in the Government Gazette on 20 August 2010 FALINTIL day - the 35th Anniversary of FALINTIL.
Salsinha had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment following been found guilty of leading the attack on Prime Minister Gusmao's convoy in Dare on the morning of 11 February 2008. Just before that attack Major Alfredo Reinado was responsible for leading armed men to the house of President Jose Ramos-Horta. During the firefight Alfredo was killed and Ramos-Horta was shot several times and evacuated to Darwin. Later on Ramos-Horta claimed to have been shot by Timorese followers in Alfredo's group.
Despite being published in the Gazette Salsinha remains in Becora prison pending an official court order being issued to the prison authorities.
Timor-Leste is a country in which there has been some considerable political interference in court decisions - even by President Ramos-Horta.
On 30 August 2009 Timor-Leste released Maternus Bere former leader of 1999 Laksaur militia. This was a decision which caused a great deal of criticism from civil society. The Prime Minister was called to speak and be questioned by the National Parliament, the Minister of Justice was investigated. Ordinary people show some considerable dislike, "I think the law is only valid for those who steal a chicken, and not for those who commit crimes against the state or against humanity,' said Abilio Lopes a University student in Dili.
President Horta defended his decision stating "The Petitioners and Salsinha were victims as well. So after some discussions with the Government and Opposition Leaders I have decided to end the 2006 problem."