Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin
August 19, 2008
EVIDENCE has emerged that challenges the belief that East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta was shot by a member of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado's gang.
Investigators now believe the shooter was wearing a different uniform from that of Reinado's men - a uniform gang members used to wear, The Age has learnt.
The revelation will fuel fresh speculation in Dili that Reinado was lured to Mr Ramos Horta's house, where gunmen were waiting.
Mario Carrascalao, a key member of East Timor's ruling coalition, said yesterday that more than six months after the attacks "we still don't know what happened".
"For me, all the stories that have been told here - I don't trust them," he said.
Mr Carrascalao called for the immediate release of a prosecutor-general's report into the attacks and the establishment of an independent inquiry into "what happened and more importantly why it happened".
Fretilin, the main opposition party, has made similar demands.
"We can't put aside the possibility that Alfredo was set up," said Mr Carrascalao, head of the Social Democrat Party.
A post-mortem report released last week showed that Reinado and one of his men were shot dead at close range inside Mr Ramos Horta's house compound, which led to speculation in Dili that they were executed.
For months after the attacks, Timorese were led to believe that Marcelo Caetano, one of Reinado's men, shot Mr Ramos Horta twice at the front gate of the President's home. But Mr Ramos Horta realised that Caetano was not the gunman when he met him in Dili after the rebel had surrendered in April.
Caetano, who is in jail in Dili with 21 other rebels, has admitted he was at Mr Ramos Horta's house but denied he shot the President.
Other rebels have signed statements claiming that Reinado told them he was taking them to Dili for a pre-arranged meeting with Mr Ramos Horta, who knew nothing about it and was taking his morning walk when the rebel group arrived at his house on February 11.
Mr Ramos Horta was wounded when he hurried back to the house after hearing shots. He spent two months recovering at Royal Darwin Hospital after life-saving surgery.
Mr Carrascalao, an Indonesia-era governor and one of East Timor's most powerful politicians, said he did not believe that Reinado would have gone to Mr Ramos Horta's house to kill him or harm him.
"It makes no sense … the President was the one person who was trying to save Alfredo," he said.
Mr Carrascalao said an independent inquiry, which is being resisted by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, should be conducted by Timorese with the support of international technical advisers.