Caption: Angela Freitas during the lead up to the 2012 Presidential campaign
By Ted McDonnell
Just over a week ago, East Timor's President Taur Matan Ruak freed former justice minister and convicted criminal Lucia Lobato less than two years into her five year sentence for corruption; a week later one-time presidential hopeful Angela Freitas and former commander Mauk Moruk have fronted the nation's prosecutor still wondering what charges they will face when they go to trial in the coming months.
The decision by TMR has left justice advocates and many in East Timor bewildered. It is rumoured TMR was pressured to release Lobato. Yet the case involving Freitas and Moruk, justice advocates say, borders on the farcical.
Supporters of Freitas and Moruk believe initial charges of 'wearing military uniforms', and in Freitas cause, 'gun running' despite the absence of evidence, have been trumped up by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
The 'fight' between Moruk and Gusmao is almost East Timor folklore. The outspoken Moruk, one of East Timor's most feared commanders has been a harsh critic of Gusmao believing his former comrade has betrayed his people through bad government, financial mismanagement and turning a blind eye to systemic corruption in his government.
The bad blood between the Gusmao and Moruk harks back to "incidents" in the 1980s involving other commanders. Neither Moruk nor Gusmao are willing to talk publicly about the "incidents".
This blog can be reveal for the first time that a number of East Timor commanders mysteriously went 'missing' in the East Timorese jungles during the 1980s.
For many years, it was not known what happened to the FALINTIL commanders and whether they were killed fighting the Indonesians occupation forces or murdered "persons unknown”.
However, we can now reveal that they disappeared during a bloody power struggle with fellow commanders.
Interviews with a number of veterans have revealed that by prominent commander ordered the murder of ‘dissenting’ fellow commanders.
People close to President TMR, PM Gusmao and Moruk say the jailing of Moruk for months without charge has more to do with shutting up the outspoken former commander than their public spat over 'political ideologies'.
A number of attempts to interview the incarcerated Moruk, the Prime Minister or for that matter the President, who was also a fellow commander of both Gusmao and Moruk, on these intriguing matters have failed. Both Gusmao and TMR have repeated refused interviews.
As for the gun running charges against one-time presidential hopeful Angela Freitas, many believe the charges are also 'trumped up' by East Timor's political elite to silence Freitas, who is also a long time critic of the two term government of Gusmao.
Several months ago, Freitas was arrested at Dili Airport after returning from overseas following an operation. It has been alleged she imported container loads of guns for a supposed 'revolution' against the government. Interestingly, no guns have ever been found despite by Police.
Freitas, a dual East Timor and Australian citizen, has little doubt the "false allegations and charges" against her have been raised by East Timor's political elite and led by the Prime Minister keen on shutting up dissidents.
"They accused me of abuse of power and gun running. They claim I wore a military uniform but at the time of the accusation I was in hospital in Indonesia," she added.
"They also claim I brought into East Timor two container loads of guns. They searched my house, they search everywhere and found nothing. Where are the two containers of guns?
"There are no guns.”
Legal insiders believe the government has arranged for "hundreds" of witnesses to come forward from the districts to speak out against both Freitas and Moruk.
Both Freitas and Moruk await formal charges by East Timor's Prosecutor General. For six months Moruk has languished in Becora prison without charge.
Human rights experts are appalled at the detention of Moruk without charge.
Later this year, Finance Minister Emilia Pires, a close confidante of Prime Minister Gusmao, will face the courts along with former Vice Health Minster Ms Madalene Hanjam on charges of corruption over a contract awarded to Ms Pires' husband's Melbourne business. Both maintain their innocence.
Prime Minister Gusmao, who recently confirmed he will stay on as PM until at least 2017, continues to fully support Ms Pires, who he personally appointed as Finance Minister, against corruption allegations stating his close ally is innocent of any charges.
Recent decisions, like the one involving the President and the former justice Minister; the proposed media laws to silence freedom of speech; and the Prime Minister’s continued verbal attacks on the Corruption Commission has left people wondering whether East Timor is fast becoming an autocracy.