April 24, 2012 By: Raimundo Oki DILI: Justice Minister Lucia Lobato’s corruption trial begins in the Dili District Court today.
The charges against Ms Lobato relate to the construction of Civil Registration Conservatory offices in eight of Timor-Leste’s districts, and include the misuse of power, nepotism and corruption.
The Social Democratic Party leader is accused of unlawfully granting projects to the party’s followers.
National Parliament has suspended the immunity Ms Lobato enjoyed as a member of government, and she said she was ready to face the court to explain the truth.
“I have been ready to respond to the Dili court, to defend myself, and I am happy (that the court will) process my case soon,” she told journalists during a press conference yesterday.
The Council of Ministers has decided Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao should assume the role of justice minister while Ms Lobato faces trial, she said.
“I will (go to court) as a normal citizen and I will not come to work (as minister) because the parliament has removed my immunity,” Ms Lobato said.
The four-day trial is expected to end on Friday.
Meanwhile, National Parliament yesterday suspended Minister for Administration Arcangelo Leite’s immunity so he can answer to corruption charges in the Baucau District Court soon.
During the vote in parliament, 42 MPs agreed to suspend Mr Leite’s immunity, one MP voted against the move and one abstained.
Parliament president Fernando Lasama de Araujo said the parliament wanted to cooperate with the justice sector.