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East Timor shooting case to trial

Angelita Pires, undated photo, in Dili, East Timor
Angelita Pires was the lover of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado

An Australian woman, Angelita Pires, is among 27 people being brought to trial in East Timor, for the attempted murder of President Jose Ramos-Horta.

The confused incident, on 11 February 2008, saw guards and rebel soldiers shooting around Mr Ramos-Horta's home.

Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado and one other rebel were killed in the attack, which Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao described as a coup attempt.

Ms Pires was then the lover of Mr Reinado and insists she is innocent.

Holding both East Timorese and Australian nationality, Ms Pires, 43, has told reporters she feels she has not been given a chance to prepare for the case.

"I have been struggling to get access to the case, to know really what I have been charged with," she said.

Prosecutors are expected to allege that Ms Pires urged Mr Reinado to kill the small state's president and prime minister.

Ms Pires' Australian lawyer, Jon Tippett, QC, says the case against his client remains "hopelessly inadequate and unfounded".

Pires' legal team will seek to have much of the state's evidence deemed inadmissible, he said.

Antonio Pires, Angelita's brother, said the family had no confidence in East Timor's legal system.

Instability

Rebels handing in their weapons, 29 April

The shooting of Mr Ramos-Horta provoked a declaration of a state of emergency in East Timor, and heightened fears for the state's stability.

However, Gastao Salsinha, who took over the rebel leadership on Mr Reinado's death, surrendered to the government in April last year.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao had escaped unhurt from an attack on the same day the president was shot and seriously injured.

The rebels - former soldiers - had been on the run since violent protests in 2006 that left more than 30 people dead.

The protests were triggered by then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's decision to sack 600 striking members of the army.



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