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East Timor ex-minister convicted of fueling militia violence

[JURIST] A court in East Timor [JURIST news archive] Wednesday found former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato guilty of promoting violence during the military riots in the country last year. The three judges hearing the case sentenced Lobato to seven-and-a-half years in prison for arming the militias [JURIST report] that ravaged the country in April 2006. He was also found guilty of criminal negligence in the deaths of nine police officers killed during the violence last May.

Chaos broke out in the East Timor's capital of Dili in April 2006 after former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri [BBC profile] fired 600 members of the military. The dismissals split the army into factions, which soon collapsed into gang wars. Thirty-seven people were killed and 150,000 were forced from their homes before international peacekeepers intervened, ending the bloodshed and installing a new government. Alkatiri, who recently resigned amid mass protests, has been questioned [JURIST report] but not charged regarding his role in the government-sponsored militias. AP has more.

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