Media Release - Dili, 14 September 2009
FRETILIN’s parliamentary leader Aniceto Guterres today tabled a Censure Motion in the National Parliament, alleging unconstitutional acts by the Gusmao de facto government in the unlawful release of militia leader Maternus Bere.
The motion is expected to be debated soon. Under Timor-Leste’s constitution, if the motion is passed by a majority of parliament, the President will have grounds to dismiss the government and call for the formation of a new one.
FRETILIN has 21 seats in the 65 member parliament. The censure motion was supported by the MP from the KOTA party.
Bere had been placed in custody on the orders of the Suai District Court, pending his trial for his alleged involvement in multiple crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, deportation, kidnap and torture in Timor-Leste in September 1999 following the announcement of the pro-independence referendum result.
“Maternus Bere is one of the most wanted militia leaders from the 1999 violence in our country”, said Mr Guterres.
“He was indicted, arrested, brought before a court and ordered to stand trial for the crimes he is alleged to have committed, and to be imprisoned pending his trial. On August 30, 2009, for purely political reasons and without a court order, the Prime Minister is said to have instructed the Justice Minister to release him from this lawful imprisonment. The President of the Court of Appeal, the equivalent of our Chief Justice of our highest court, has confirmed that a court order to release Bere was never issued. That makes his release unlawful and a crime punishable under section 245 of the Criminal Code with a term of imprisonment of between 2 to 6 years,” said Mr Guterres.
On September10, 2009, the Dili weekly news agency Tempo Semanal reported an interview with the Prime Minister where he said: “I am ready because I did release him,” and, “I know where Becora prison is, so as soon as a court sentences me I will go there myself.”
His Justice Minister Lucia Lobato has also stated several times in the media that Bere’s release was a “political decision”.
“The government has usurped the powers constitutionally mandated to the judiciary. They have interfered with the course of justice. On their own admission, they have broken the law. President of the Court of appeal has stated publicly that a judicial investigation has been launched and that will in due course call whoever was responsible for the unlawful release to account before the criminal courts,” said Mr Guterres.
“Regardless of that eventuality, it is also important that the government be held responsible for this undermining of the rule of law, justice and the rights of victims. That is why we have submitted this censure motion,” Guterres added.
“The Bere release has thrust the justice issue to the forefront of our national politics. This censure motion is intended to draw the line on where the parties in the parliament stand on justice and the rule of law.
“If the government’s allies blindly close ranks behind Mr Gusmao, they will be at risk of siding against justice for the victims of the 1999 violence and for promoting impunity. This censure debate in itself will be a victory for the rule of law and justice in our young democracy,” Guterres closed.
For further information please contact Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 7080