Sunday, June 03, 2007

Reinado letter denies Indonesia asylum bid

Reinado letter denies Indonesia asylum bid
Fugitive East Timorese rebel Major Alfredo Reinado has sent an open letter to media denying reports that he had flown to Indonesia to seek asylum.

"I state that I have never thought of seeking political asylum in another country," Reinado said in the letter sent to the various media in the capital, Dili.

Reinado reiterated that he was fully prepared to surrender to authorities but first sought a halt to military operations hunting him down.

The manhunt was launched by the government in February after he and his men attacked several border police outposts and fled with dozens of weapons.

"I want to convince you that I am ready to turn myself in to Dili, whenever the time. I only need four hours if the government and the state halt the military and police operations," he said.

He added while he welcomed any attempt to hold dialogue with the authorities, it should follow a procedure "that will not hurt or take my life or those of my men".

Reinado made a television appearance last Sunday when he was interviewed at an undisclosed location by an Indonesian private television channel, giving rise to speculation then that he might already be outside of the country and ready to seek asylum.

Australian-led troops attacked his mountain hideout in March, killing five of his armed supporters in a failed offensive.

The fugitive has previously been blamed in part for last year's unrest, after he and others led 600 soldiers to desert the army over claims of discrimination.

At least 37 people were killed, another 150,000 displaced and Australian-led international peacekeepers were dispatched to restore security.


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