19 November 2017

Government ensures compliance with the law in the case of Portuguese convicts in Timor

Tiago and Fong Fong War fled to Australia after
being convicted of embezzlement

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the embassy in Dili had complied with Portuguese law by granting passports to the couple Tiago and Fong Fong Guerra, who fled to Australia after being sentenced for embezzlement by the Timorese court.

Following the flight of two Portuguese nationals to Australia earlier this month, the Portuguese diplomat, Augusto Santos Silva, ordered an urgent inquiry into the Diplomatic and Consular General Inspection, the conclusion of which was delivered on Thursday.

"The inspection inquiry verifies that all legal requirements have been fulfilled by the Portuguese embassy. I have today transmitted the content of this report to my colleague, Timor-Leste's Foreign Minister, because I do not want any doubt to hang over a bilateral relationship as good as the relationship between Portugal and Timor-Leste, "the Portuguese minister told Lusa on the sidelines of a conference and inauguration on Portuguese forced labor victims in Nazi Germany at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon.

The Guerra couple renewed their citizen cards earlier this year, and more recently Portuguese passports were issued, prompting criticism in the Timorese press.

"Portuguese citizens are entitled to identification documents as Portuguese citizens, irrespective of their legal situation, provided they do not violate certain legal provisions. In this case, there was no such violation, according to our inquiry, the applicable Portuguese legislation was complied with and so the passports were assigned, in compliance with the law, "Santos Silva said today.

Asked about the extradition request for Portugal sent by the couple to the Portuguese Attorney General's Office, the minister sent him to justice.

"Portugal provides consular support to all its citizens regardless of the legal situation they are in, but the legal process and legal situation is not within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," he said, noting that the Government is not involved in no negotiations with the Timorese government on this case.

He added: "It is incumbent upon the judicial authorities of Timor-Leste and Australians, and also with the request, to the Portuguese judicial authorities, to pronounce themselves in accordance with their respective legislations and making use of their respective powers."

The two Portuguese, Tiago Guerra, and his wife, Fong Fong Guerra, are being held at a detention center for immigrants in Darwin, "for illegal entry into Australia on November 9, 2017."

Both had been convicted in August by a panel of Dili District Court judges eight years in prison and $ 859,000 in compensation for embezzlement (fraudulent use of public money). The Portuguese appealed the sentence, considering that it suffered from "insanitary nullities" more common in "undemocratic regimes", based on manipulated evidence and even prohibited.

The "international extradition request for Portugal with provisional detention" was sent to the Portuguese Attorney General, Joana Marques Vidal, with knowledge of the Minister of Justice, Francisca Van-Dúnem, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva , according to the lawyer's letter to which Lusa had access.

Tiago and Fong Fong Guerra were undergoing weekly presentations to the Timorese authorities, but fled by boat to Australia on November 9.

It is for this illegal entry in Australia that the couple now ask for extradition to Portugal, where they want to be tried, stressed the lawyer of the couple, Pedro Mendes Ferreira, stressing that "nothing has to do with the crime" for which they were tried in Dili.

The lawyer of the couple recalls that there is a Treaty of Extradition between Portugal and Australia (ratified by the Portuguese parliament in 1988) and remember that the same does not happen between Timor-Leste and Australia.

See also on ETLJB
No extradition treaty but Timor-Leste prepares arrest warrant for convicted Portuguese criminals who fled to Australia


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