In the end the Court’s decision on penalty was 3 years in prison, suspended for 4 years.
This short note concerns the offence itself and the criminal behaviour of the defendant towards women to demonstrate the exact nature of the acts of violence perpetrated in this case; similar to many other reported cases of spousal assault in East Timor.
JSMP recorded the particulars of the violence:
“The public prosecutor alleged that on 4 August 2017 at approximately 12.00 noon the defendant slapped the victim once on her right cheek, slapped her once in the face near her eyes, slapped her once on the left cheek, slapped her twice on the right cheek. Also, the defendant kicked the victim once in the nose and caused the victim to suffer a bloody nose and pain.
On 6 August 2017 at approximately 8.00pm the defendant slapped the victim once on her right cheek, choked her and stomped on her left leg which caused the victim to suffer pain. These acts were committed when the victim asked the defendant about their money that the defendant had wasted.
A medical report from PRADET and photographs from Police-VPU were also attached to this case file.
During the trial the defendant confessed all of the facts set out in the indictment and regretted his actions. The defendant is as farmer, and has no fixed monthly income, and has four children.
One week after this incident the defendant went looking for his wife and child who had been taken by the parents of the victim back to stay with them. At that time, they immediately reconciled and have been living together since that time as husband and wife.
The defendant also stated that previously he committed the crime of domestic violence against the victim and was given a suspended prison sentence in 2016.
The public prosecutor stated that the defendant had strong intent to beat his wife because he would hit her one day, the next day, two days later and three days later. Namely, the defendant could continue to beat the victim. The defendant did not show regret for his previous crime event though he was given a suspended sentence, therefore the public prosecutor requested for the court to impose the sentence provided for in Article 154 of the Penal Code against the defendant.
The defence requested for the court to apply a lenient sentence against the defendant based on his wrongdoing because the defendant collaborated with the court because he confessed the facts without reservation and regretted his actions. The defendant has four children and after the crime the defendant used his own initiative to find his wife and children at the home of the victim's parents and took them back home. The defendant also reconciled with the victim and they are living together as husband and wife.”
Case No: 0016/17.OEPSB was heard by Judges João Ribeiro, Sribuana da Costa, Eusébio Victor Xavier who were accompanied by Alexandre E. Brige Viega. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison, suspended for 4 years with conditions.
The particulars of the violence in this case were reported by JSMP.
"The public prosecutor alleged that on an unspecified day and time in April 2017 the defendant kicked the victim once in the head when the victim was sitting down and caused the victim to suffer pain. This act occurred when the defendant did not want the victim to say anything against the defendant's mother who was swearing at the victim.
Then, on an unspecified date and time in June 2017, the defendant kicked the victim once in her left thigh left and the victim fell to the ground. Then the defendant pulled the victim's hair and dragged her inside the house. These acts caused the victim to suffer pain. This incident occurred when the defendant told the victim to leave the home but the victim did not want to and the defendant threatened that one day the victim would die.
On 23 July 2017 the defendant kicked the victim once on the right side of her head and caused the victim to fall to the ground and lose consciousness. This act occurred when the defendant expelled the victim from the home but the victim did not want to leave the home. The case file included a photo from the police showing the victim's condition at that time.
The social problem of domestic violence in East Timor has been high on policy-makers’ and human rights advocates since independence. Special laws have been enacted. The Courts are full of domestic violence cases. It is a complex problem and one that requires social transformation that will take many years. One might speculate that domestic violence has a high correlation with poverty. It may also be an aberration that is a part of the long legacy of violence that held East Timor fast for nearly thirty years.
In any event, the government and donors must continue to provide social support to the victims of domestic violence and ensure that safe houses such as those run by PRADET remain fully and properly funded. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of the government and of civil society to raise the country out of the morass of domestic violence through continuous community legal education programs, consciousness-raising and the education system.
East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin