21 March 2012

East Timor suspends justice minister

AFP March 21, 2012 4:30am - EAST Timor's parliament has suspended the country's justice minister after a court summoned her to face charges of corruption and abuse of power.

The suspension comes amid a presidential election in which some candidates have accused the government of rampant graft.

Of the 65 members of parliament, 36 voted in favour of a resolution to suspend Justice Minister Lucia Lobato.

"Parliament suspends the functions of her excellency, the Minister of Justice ... according to article 113 of the constitution of the republic," read the resolution obtained by AFP.

The article states that members of the government charged with serious criminal offences must be suspended "so that the proceedings can be pursued".

Ms Lobato, 46, is accused of colluding with a company in a tender to build eight civil registry offices in 2009 worth more than $US1 million ($945,805). A member of her staff is accused of falsifying documents that Ms Lobato signed off on.

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