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06 April 2013

Court seeks removal of immunity of State Secretary for Institutional Strengthening as quest against corruption continues in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 06 April 2013 - The Dili District Court has sent a letter of notification to the National Parliament , the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao and the Director General of the State Budget seeking the removal of the immunity from prosecution of the Government's State Secretary for Institutional Strengthening, Francisco Borlaco.

According to an English translation of an article in daily newspaper, Timor Post, yesterday, the notification that the Court sent to the Government and National Parliament relates to the trial of Borlaco that is scheduled for 28 March and so the Court has called on these two State bodies to remove his political immunity and authorise him to face the Court.

Dili District Court Administrator, Judge Duarte Tilman, said he signed a notification letter to send to the National Parliament and the Government and that the Parliament and Government had five days to respond to this notification letter. The letter was apparently sent last month  but until now there was no response from the Government or the National Parliament.

The Public Prosecution has accused SEFI Borlaco of committing abuse of power and maladministration when he was director-general for the Ministry of Finance during the previous government. Borlaco is a member of the Democratic Party and a member of the National Parliament.

Under East Timor's Constitution, Members of Parliament enjoy certain immunities from prosecution. Article 113 (Criminal liability of the members of Government) provides that:

1. Where a member of the Government is charged with a criminal offence punishable with a sentence of imprisonment for more than two years, he or she shall be suspended from his or her functions so that the proceedings can be pursued.
2. Where a member of the Government is charged with a criminal offence punishable with a sentence of imprisonment for a maximum of two years, the National Parliament shall decide whether or not that member of the Government shall be suspended so that the proceedings can be pursued.  Source: Timor Post 5/4/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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