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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07DILI92
2007-03-07 10:36:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Dili
Cable title:  

EX INTERIOR MINISTER LOBATO FOUND GUILTY, FOR NOW

Tags:   PGOV  KJUS  KPAO  ASEC  TT 
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RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2683
						C O N F I D E N T I A L DILI 000092 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/7/2017
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KPAO ASEC TT
SUBJECT: EX INTERIOR MINISTER LOBATO FOUND GUILTY, FOR NOW


CLASSIFIED BY: Stanley Harsha, Charge d'Affaires, US Embassy
Dili, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)



C O N F I D E N T I A L DILI 000092

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/7/2017
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KPAO ASEC TT
SUBJECT: EX INTERIOR MINISTER LOBATO FOUND GUILTY, FOR NOW


CLASSIFIED BY: Stanley Harsha, Charge d'Affaires, US Embassy
Dili, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)




1. (U) Summary: A Dili District Court on March 7 sentenced
former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato to seven and a half
years in prison on murder and weapons charges. His
co-defendants, Francisco Salsinha, Francisco Xavier Viegas, and
Marcos Piedade, each received a four month suspended sentence.
Lobato's lawyers immediately announced they would appeal and the
commencement of the sentence will await an Appellate Court
decision. Reaction from a variety of East Timorese contacts has
been muted, and we have so far observed no significant public
reaction or renewed unrest. End Summary.


2. (U) A Dili District Court panel comprised of Portuguese,
Brazilian, and East Timorese judges on March 7 found Lobato
guilty of a wide variety of offenses, including conspiracy, four
counts of murder, misappropriation of public property, and the
unauthorized importation or use of firearms to disrupt public
order. The verdict was read in Portuguese and simultaneously
translated into Tetum Those who attended the proceedings
included former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Finance Minister
Maria Boavida, and Minister for Natural Resources Jose Teixeira.
Neither current Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta nor President
Xanana Gusmao attended the court session. (Embassy Dili is
working to obtain a translated copy of the verdict and will
report on the charges in further detail Septel.) Lobato had
been indicted on one count of misuse of state property and
funds, eighteen counts of murder, and eleven counts of attempted
murder-all charges associated with his providing arms to
civilians. The total sentence of seven and a half years
suggests that the panel of judges cleared Lobato of many of the
charges, and/or gave him the minimum sentences for some of them.
His sentence will not begin pending appeal, but if the decision
is upheld he will be remanded to Dili's Becora prison.


3. (C) Reaction from political figures has so far been muted,
and Lobato himself did not visibly react to the verdict,
possibly because he may have been expecting it. Fretilin party
contacts in the days before the trial told the Embassy that they
anticipated Lobato might receive a six-year sentence. Alkatiri
left the courtroom quickly without giving any press interviews.
The lead lawyer for dissident military leader Alfredo Reinado,
told the CDA via phone that he thought the verdict indicated "a
little justice," but suggested that politicization could scupper
the appeals process. Mariano Sabino, Secretary General of the
opposition Democrat Party, agreed that the Appeals Court was
likely to be politicized, and said he was convinced that
Alkatiri and the Council of Ministers knew of Lobato's actions
and therefore should also face justice.


4. (C) Comment: We share the concerns about the appeals process
and think a reduction or overturning of Lobato's sentence is
entirely possible. In the short-term however, this finding of
guilt, especially if Lobato is already focused on the appeals
process, may serve to calm some of the ongoing civil unrest. It
could also contribute to a negotiated settlement between the
Government of East Timor and Reinado.


5. (U) Recommended Press Guidance:
-- This verdict is a good first step in the judicial process.
-- We urge the Government of East Timor to implement all of the
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.
-- We hope that all parties in East Timor accept the decision
and act with restraint.
-- We hope that this decision provides an example that Timorese
can rely on the justice system to peacefully address grievances.
-- It is important that the Government of East Timor continue to
develop the justice system as a strong and effective mechanism
for enforcing rule of law.

HARSHA