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East Timor president asks court for advisory opinion on amnesty law

[JURIST] East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta [BBC profile] has said that he will ask the Court of Appeal to issue an advisory opinion on whether an amnesty law [AAP report] passed by East Timor's National Parliament last month is consistent with East Timor's constitution and international law, saying Monday that he would not sign the law if the court found it to be incompatible with either source. If approved by Horta, the controversial measure would grant clemency for crimes like larceny, crimes against state security, firearm offenses, theft, property damages under $10,000, and traffic violations committed between April 2006 and 2007.

The National Parliament passed the law on the grounds that the East Timorese judiciary has struggled to prosecute thousands of cases stemming from militia and gang violence that ravaged East Timor [JURIST news archive] in April and May 2006. Critics of the measure worry that clemency may incite public anger and additional violence. In March, former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato was found guilty of promoting violence during the riots [JURIST report] and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for arming the militias [JURIST report]. AAP has more.

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