Accused Ramos-Horta assassination plotters face court

Posted Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:46pm AEST 

Angelita Pires said she would keep fighting for justice.

Angelita Pires said she would keep fighting for justice. (ABC TV: ABC)

An East Timor court has begun the trial of 28 people accused of trying to kill the President and Prime Minister.

President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot several times outside his home in February last year.

Gunmen also opened fire on the car of the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt.

Among the defendants are 27 men, mostly rebel soldiers as well as the East Timorese born Australian woman, Angelita Pires.

Her former lover, Alfredo Reinado, was killed during the attack on the President.

State prosecutors began the trial by ejecting Pires' two lawyers, forcing them into the public gallery.

Walking into court today she appeared calm.

Pires addressed the court briefly saying she would keep fighting for justice and Reinado's beliefs and would never abandon him.

"I'll never plead guilty and I'll never accept a pardon. Why should I," she said.

"Accept a pardon for what? For something I haven't committed?

"If I have to go to jail simply because of my love for Alfredo Reinado, for my son, and for the people, so let it be. I'll face it."

There was a strong security presence outside the court s supporters of the accused gathered, including Alfredo Reinado's father who said he wanted to know who shot the President and who shot his son.

A number of heavily armed UN police were conducting lengthy security checks on anyone who wanted to enter the court.

The supporters waved signs saying 'Justice for Angelita', 'Justice for Alfredo Reinado' the rebel who died during that attack.

Pires's defence lawyer said he expected 150 witnesses could be called in, meaning the case may drag on for months.


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