QC slams Ramos-Horta assassination case
Lawyers for a Timorese-born Australian woman standing trial over an alleged plot to assassinate East Timor's President say new evidence has come to light that further undermines the prosecution's case.
Angelita Pires and 27 men are on trial for attacks on President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao two years ago.
After seven months of hearings, the trial is expected to come to an end this week and the defence is concerned crucial witnesses will not be heard.
On February 11, 2008 Jose Ramos-Horta was shot near his compound in Dili.
It is alleged the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado led the attack. The President was seriously wounded and Reinado and fellow rebel Leopoldino Exposto were shot dead.
Ms Pires had been in a relationship with Reinado and is accused of being an indirect author of the attack. But her lawyers have consistently raised doubts about the prosecution's version of events.
One of her Australian lawyers, Jon Tippett, QC, says new evidence adds weight to a different theory.
"It simply smashes the prosecution case to pieces really. The fact is these two men [Reinado and Exposto] were murdered," Mr Tippett said.
The prosecution's case is that both men were shot by one of the guards at the President's compound.
But the defence has obtained a ballistics report by the Australian Federal Police which concludes that different weapons were used to shoot Mr Reinado and Mr Exposto.
"Further, the man who is alleged to have killed them using one weapon could not have killed on the ballistic evidence. His weapon simply did not kill," Mr Tippett said.
Shot at close range
Now the defence has a report by leading Australian forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner.
Mr Tippett says that report backs autopsies which found that the men were shot at close range.
"We have autopsy evidence that the deceased were killed from contact to 10 centimetres of the body, which means that they were certainly not killed over 20 to 30 metres which has been the government and prosecution position up to date," he said.
The defence argues the reports support the theory the men were lured to Dili to be killed.
But Mr Tippett says the court has not accepted the pathology report and will not hear evidence from Professor Stephen Cordner.
The defence is also still demanding the prosecution release autopsy photos, which have been published in East Timor's media.
"We're concerned that the fact that this case is concluding without important witnesses being heard. I'm speaking of eyewitnesses, forensic pathologists, crime scene examiners - these are the witnesses who are missing," Mr Tippett said.
The trial has heard from 130 witnesses over the past seven months and is expected to conclude this week.
The panel of three judges will have 30 days to deliver a verdict.
The ABC's AM program contacted the prosecutor in the case and East Timor's prosecutor-general but both declined to comment saying the case is still before the court.
source: ABC News