East Timor ex-PM questioned in illegal weapons case

[JURIST] Prosecutors in East Timor [JURIST news archive] questioned former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri [BBC profile] Thursday about allegations that he illegally distributed weapons to local militias and ordered them to kill political opponents. An investigation began after Vincent "Railos" da Concecao, claiming he was the leader of the alleged hit squad, told reporters that Alkatiri and former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato provided arms for da Concecao to use against political opponents during weeks of violence [BBC report] that erupted after Alkatiri dismissed 600 striking members of the East Timor army [JURIST report]. Alkatiri has been confined to the city limits [Reuters report] of Dili for 15 days while prosecutors prepare for more questioning.

Prosecutors summoned Alkatiri [JURIST report] for Thursday's questioning even though Alkatiri had refused an earlier summons [JURIST report] in June, claiming immunity from criminal prosecution as a member of Parliament. Alkatiri, who denies the allegations, automatically received a seat in Parliament after he resigned in June [BBC report]. Prosecutors charged Lobato [JURIST report] in the case in June. Meanwhile, the Australian is reporting that Lobato's lawyers have accused [Australian report] the Australian military, who arrested the former minister in June, of violating the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] by arresting him without a warrant. AP has more.

 

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