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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 04:38 GMT 05:38 UK
E Timor ex-PM avoids questioning
Mr Alkatiri addressing supporters, 27th June
Mr Alkatiri may have resigned but he is still a powerful figure
East Timor's former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has refused to turn up for questioning over allegations that he armed a civilian hit squad.

Prosecutor-general Longuinhos Monteiro said Mr Alkatiri was claiming immunity from prosecution as an MP.

Instead the former premier spent Friday morning addressing supporters in the grounds of Dili's university.

"Keep fighting! Keep fighting!" he told the cheering crowds, surrounded by heavily armed foreign peacekeepers.

Mr Alkatiri resigned from his position on Monday, following intense pressure both at home and abroad.

Letter of postponement

East Timor has been beset by unrest since Mr Alkatiri sacked 600 disgruntled soldiers in March.

Gun battles between the rebel soldiers and those loyal to the government then broke out, with machete-wielding youths forcing thousands to flee their homes in fear.

As well as blaming him for triggering the violence, Mr Alkatiri's opponents also allege that he formed a hit squad to kill his political rivals - a charge he firmly denies.

A close ally, former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, already faces charges over distributing the arms.

Mr Alkatiri had been summoned to appear for questioning on Friday in relation to these accusations, but Mr Monteiro said he had received a letter requesting a postponement.

"Mr Alkatiri is not coming to be interrogated today for two reasons," Mr Monteiro told reporters.

"The first reason is after his resignation from the government he has now become a member of parliament [so] he has immunity," he said.

"And the second thing, he is still awaiting the arrival of his lawyers who will be coming from abroad."

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