Yesterday, we questioned why there appeared to be a
discrepancy between the Australian media’s account of Tuesday night’s arrest of
East Timorese rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado on weapons charges and a
report from the Portuguese press (Top Stories, Item 12).

Unlike Australianaccounts of the incident, the Portuguese source reported that the rebel leader’s cache of weapons and military equipment was
located by Portuguese paramilitary police (GNR) within ten metres of the
entrance to Australian military HQ in Dili.

It also said that the GNR were responding to a complaint
from a home-owner that his house had been occupied. When they arrived they
found the occupiers were the rebel leader and his men. The report said Reinado
has alleged that he had Presidential permission to “billet himself” opposite
the Australian HQ.

An ADF spokeswoman has since emailed Crikey to say that
while they could confirm that “Alfredo Reinado was arrested in close proximity
to a facility occupied by Australian troops, it was not the ADF’s Dili
Headquarters.”

As for Reinado’s allegation that he had permission to locate himself across the road from an ADF base, the
department’s spokeswoman told Crikey that this was a matter best dealt with by East Timor’s
judiciary system. The case was still before the
court yesterday, with Reinado and his men in detention, despite the Portuguese
report’s claim that they were allowed to remain in the house under
Australian military guard.

As Mark
Dodd reported
in The Australian yesterday, Reinado “enjoys notoriety as an Australian citizen trained by the Australian
Defence Force.” His actions have also been defended by President Xanana Gusmao, who says that the rebel leader took
his men into the mountains to avoid conflict.

Considering Reinado had recently given up his protected
safe haven in the mountains and relocated to the city, it is not
entirely
surprising he would choose to bunker down close to an Australian army
base. It is surprising, however, that he would also choose to store an
illegal arms cache at this location.

Meanwhile, sources close to the action in Dili told Crikey
yesterday that Reinado and his men had only moved into the house near the
military base on Monday – one day before the arrests. And considering this was the same day that the
Australian commander Brigadier Slater declared that anyone caught with weapons
would be arrested, it seems the ADF might have known what was going on after
all.

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12