Saturday, 28 May 2011

FALINTIL-FDTL Sacks Soldiers and Sets Example for the Country

F-FDTL Commander, Major General Taur Matan Ruak

Dili, Tempo Semanal, 28/05/2011

On 25 May 2006 during the political – security crisis that plunged Timor-Leste into chaos FALINTIL-FDTL soldiers shot and killed a number of unarmed PNTL officers subsequent to a surrender in central Dili.

The UN Commission of Inquiry recommended that a number of F-FDTL soldiers be prosecuted for the murder of these police officers.  F-FDTL then gave way for the public trial of 4 F-FDTL soliders and one officer in Dili District Court in 2008.  The four mean were then found guilty and sentenced to 8-10 years each for their role in the massacre.

In 2010 the President of the Republic Jose Ramos-Horta commutted the soliders sentences and they returned to duty in FALINTIL-FDTL.  Some months later one of the men Armindo do Silva, a 24 year veteran of FALINTIL, was retired with full honours in an emotional retirement ceremony.
On 27 May 2011 FALINTIL-FDTL announced that the remaining three men were dimissed from military service effective immediately.  Brigadier General Lere Annan Timor, Deputy Commander of F-FDTL, announced that the 3 men were being dismissed subject to a military discipline process.  Lere further explained that the judicial process is over but that the military excersiced its right to enforce military law for undisciplined behavior by the above mentioned soldiers.

According the Tempo Semanal sources inside F-FDTL there may be further dismissals in the future, including the solider that is accused of killing an elderly woman in Balide Dili 10 days ago.

The United Nations and the international community have regularly criticized F-FDTL for its perceived lack of discipline and poor rule of law record.  The recent decision as above is made outside of UN influence according to F-FDTL sources.  The F-FDTL have removed several soldiers in the past 3 years including one involved in the fighting over of a woman with an US Navy sailor in 2009 in a bar in Dili.

One defence force source told Tempo Semanal that while these decisions are necessary there is considerable agitation inside the defence force because police and civilian institutions rarely is ever sack officers or officials for professional misconduct.  He told Tempo Semanal “why us, when we always sacrificed in the past, and not them too?”

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