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'Political profit' behind Dili riots: parliamentary inquiry

Lusa - December 16, 2002

Dili – The parliamentary inquiry into Dili's deadly rioting found that street demonstrations began "spontaneously" but appeared to have turned into mob action for "political motivations", the commission's chief told Lusa Monday.

The parliamentary inquiry into the December 4 rioting has been turned over to the government for its appreciation along with a second independent inquiry that the cabinet was expected to discuss Monday.

Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro, who headed the legislature's inquiry commission, told Lusa he had "sufficient evidence" to press criminal charges against "tens of people". However, he declined to identify the suspects, saying he expected the government to broaden the investigations.

Monteiro told Lusa that the report found that the demonstrations December 3-4 began "spontaneously" with students demanding news of an arrested schoolmate, but unspecified "third parties" triggered mob violence for "political profit".

The rioting left two people dead, about 40 injured, and many shops and homes, including that of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, burned or looted.

The parliamentary report, Monteiro added, also raised questions about the UN mission's slow response to the violence, urging parliament to demand that UNMISET assure that police and UN peacekeepers work closer together to maintain security. UNMISET remains primarily responsible for security in East Timor, which gained its independence last May 20.

In a related development, the military commander of Indonesian West Timor was reported Sunday as denying suggestions from Dili that former anti-independence militiamen had been behind the violence. Colonel Moeswarno Moesanip, according to the Jakarta Post, rebuffed such comments from Dili's foreign minister, Josi Ramos Horta, saying they were "offensive" and "insulting". Attempts to blame the rioting on "external factors", he said, were Dili's excuse "for having failed to resolve problems at home".