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Timor's unpredictable rebel.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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Background Briefing

 

Sunday 4 November 2007

Timor’s unpredictable rebel

 

Chris Bullock: Today we're driving deep into the mountains of East Timor, to a secret location, to meet the rebel and self-styled 'folk hero', Alfredo Reinado. He's young, only 38, and he was in a detention camp in Australia for a time, before settling with his family in Perth. At the time of independence his mentors in the Australian military identified him as a possible future commander of East Timor's armed forces.

Instead, today he has a small band of loyal, armed followers moving between hideouts in the jungle. Alfredo Reinado says he has lots of support among civilians. Just how much support is unclear, but the government of East Timor remains anxious about his potential to be a focal point for further political violence.

From time to time he will agree to speak, as he does on this occasion for Background Briefing . I'm Chris Bullock, and I was with him a couple of weeks ago ...

Apart from a very brief stint under arrest, Alfredo has managed to avoid capture for 18 months, but he says he's not a fugitive ...

Alfredo Reinado: That word that you say, fugitive, I'm not a fugitive. My duty as a military is to guarantee the security and stability for my nation. That's my task, that's my job. I'm quiet sitting there waiting for one day maybe they do something different for the nation.

Chris Bullock: How long are you prepared to wait?

Alfredo Reinado: Long as my life, this is my home.

Chris Bullock: Alfredo is accused of murder during the riots and counter attacks that followed the Fretilin government's sacking of half the Timorese army, last year. There is an outstanding court order for his arrest and he has already survived an operation against him led by the Australian Special Forces. Alfredo says, he lives to protect his country and he wants justice, but he is a marked man ...

Alfredo Reinado: I don't care anything for me, my life's in danger, I'm like a dead man walking, I don't need anything for me. Why you have to ask me? Forget about me.

Chris Bullock: He is described as the country's most wanted man. But is he? He was when the SAS tried to capture him earlier this year. Now the Australian commander in East Timor, Brigadier John Hutcheson, doesn't seem to think so ...

John Hutcheson: I'm not engaged in any operations against Alfredo. Alfredo of course will be treated like any other East Timorese citizen and at the end of the day, if he is found to be carrying weapons and so on, he will be detained and disarmed at that point, the same as any other citizen would be.

Chris Bullock: And while the Australian military commander says he is no longer pursuing Alfredo, the country's President, Jose Ramos Horta, says he's arranged special negotiations, and has personally met with the rebel ...

Jose Ramos Horta: Well, I was in touch with him, I visit him about a month or so ago, had a very amicable conversation, and my argument or reason for going - because some people say the president should not go and look for a fugitive - and I said, well I view my role as Christ said, you know, I go and look for the lost sheep. So he is a human being, he is somewhere in the mountains, he wanted to talk with me, he asked to talk with me, so there I went.

Chris Bullock: Jose Ramos Horta's words are soothing and biblical, but Alfredo Reinado says he remains deeply suspicious of the president's motives.

The story behind all this is complex, but briefly this is what happened. East Timor has a number of human fault lines - political, tribal, and language divisions. In April last year about 600 Timorese soldiers went on strike and were sacked. Riots followed in Dili, and the government used what remained of the army to surround the rebellion. People were killed, and Alfredo decamped along with some other military policemen, into the hills, where he fought against government soldiers.

Alfredo set himself up in opposition to the FRETILIN government, and now the government has changed, he rails against what he says is a corrupt justice system.

Following the presidential and parliamentary elections in the middle of this year, President Ra mos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao abandoned the military pursuit of Alfredo Reinado. President Horta now seems confident he is ready to surrender ...

Jose Ramos Horta: He is now extremely quiet, I have engaged a Timorese NGO, engaged a Swiss based group, NGO, to engage him in dialogue and to bring him into a cantonment, and then he said emphatically to me and to his lawyers, to the Swiss NGO, that he is ready to then surrender the weapons and surrender to justice.

Chris Bullock: However Alfredo, when speaking to Background Briefing , prevaricates. He doesn't see why he should hand in his weapons, and he doesn't think there is such a thing as justice in East Timor ...

Alfredo Reinado: We have that very bad judicial system in our country, so I'm not going to answer to the judicial sector or judicial system. I answer to my nation, my country.

Chris Bullock: What did you say to President Horta?

Alfredo Reinado: Lead well. Because I tell them face to face, like other leaders, I respect them as they are personally, they are our heroes, they keep that in our heart, deep inside we respect that for this independence. But independence is one thing, to the keep the independence continue that's another things. So I tell him face to face that I didn't adore anyone and I didn't have sympathy for the personal, I'm sympathy with what things happen on the ground and how you lead properly in the heart of the people.

Chris Bullock: Don't you want to put down the gun at some point?

Alfredo Reinado: Why I have to put down, I'm a military I have to put down for what. Listen to me, why they didn't go to disarm those armed civilian everywhere in the country, why they didn't go do that. You see Australian force here, UN force here, Portuguese force here, and we have our own institution, but not even a single weapon they confiscated. They can't even get anyone, until now they still free everywhere. And they didn't feel comfortable about that. Why have to be me. If I give my weapon to guarantee the stability, I've already done that before. But I need this weapon that is not owned by anybody up there, not owned even by the president, not even owned by Australia neither, I tell you it is owned by the people and I using that to protect the people, and I have a right to carry that compared to those illegal ... and I have more right for those leader, some of those ministers who still have the weapon in their house. Which one have more right and you ask me to lie down my weapon, I done that before, everything I done, you want I go to jail, I go, lie down my weapon, I lie down, you want to talk, I talk, you want to fight, we fight, what else?

Chris Bullock: Don't you want to live a life that is not on the run?

Alfredo Reinado: I'm not running, nobody after me, I'm not running, I'm everywhere you see. You come see me in village, civilians everywhere, I think they the one is on hide, not me.

Chris Bullock: Alfredo is a charismatic figure. His supporters see him as force for stability in East Timor. His opponents see him as dangerous - a threat to stability. This program hopes to shed some light on the man President Horta calls 'the lost sheep".

Alfredo agreed to let us record the interview on video, and if you'd like to watch the video, and to see pictures of him at the interview location, you can go to the Background Briefing website, or to the Late Night Live website, via ABC Radio National online, and click on the links.

In Timor, unresolved political tensions and old enmities are never far beneath the surface.

In the middle of last year, SBS- Dateline journalist, David O'Shea and his Timorese colleague, Jose Belo were caught in the middle of a gun battle between Alfredo's men and government soldiers - the F-FDTL ...

Alfredo shouting at FFDTL soldiers ... then gunfire

David O'Shea: Reinado insisted he'd fired in self defence, but I was there and I clearly saw and heard him shoot first. The soldiers who were fired on that day said the attack against them came out of the blue.

Chris Bullock: A few months after that encounter, Alfredo agreed to surrender weapons in exchange for a guarantee of protection. When he came to Dili, he was arrested. Then, under obscure circumstances, he escaped from jail in Dili. Apparently, he just walked out!

For several months Alfredo moved around in the rugged mountains and hinterland of the south and west of the country. He was often seen in and around the southern town of Same, where he had many supporters. He was in touch with Australian soldiers and the UN. Not everyone in Same was happy - stories are that he and his men intimidated the local authorities and commandeered cars.

The final straw for the government was when he took weapons from a police border post. The parliament asked for the help of the Australian Special Forces to bring him in. The Australian military commander in East Timor at that time was Brigadier Mal Rerdon - who spoke to the ABCs Foreign Correspondent ...

Mal Rerdon: He was operating in a large armed group and denying the people of Same their freedom and their rights, and we've stopped him doing that. We've given back the people of Same their freedom. Our soldiers are highly trained, they've been conducting their operations in a very professional manner and they had a great deal of understanding of the need for a sensitivity and respect for civilians when they're conducting their operations.

Chris Bullock: That said, five of Alfredo Reinaldo's followers were killed, but Alfredo himself escaped. There were accusations that the government and the Australians had over-reacted. Jose Ramos Horta insists they did not.

Jose Ramos Horta: It was an operation that was necessary, necessitated by the actions of Mr Alfredo Reinado. Talks were underway even with the UN, with the attorney general, then suddenly in a surprising move Mr Alfredo Reinado went to the border, confiscated more weapons from the police. What would a state do, sit back and watch? Attempts were made for several days for him to surrender his weapons and surrender himself. He failed to do so. Anywhere in the world such measures would have been taken.

Chris Bullock: The new government of Timor is clearly frustrated that it can't end the stand-off, but at the same time doesn't want to trigger a violent reaction by going after him.

Up in the mountains, Alfredo portrays himself as a folk hero. He says he's doing the government a favour by keeping the peace in the western districts.

SFX DILI DAWN

Chris Bullock: It's just before Dawn in the capital Dili. I've been in East Timor working on a series of programs for Late Night Live , and at the last moment we received word that Alfredo had agreed to meet at an undisclosed location, several hours drive away.

We're told to head out of Dili and meet up for further instructions at a town about 2 hours away. East Timor is dominated by steep hills and rugged mountain terrain, which proved so difficult for the Indonesians and Portuguese to tame. It makes for very slow, winding road travel.

We arrive at the first stop - a town market - where our guides have stopped to get supplies for Alfredo's group - rice, dried fish, biscuits, and cigarettes.

Then we're off again, having agreed to meet a further 2 or 3 hours drive away.

With me in the car is our interpreter, Ceu - an East Timorese woman of about 50. She was an active member of the resistance for many years, and started the NGO, Timor Aid. Ceu knew Alfredo from his time in Australia.

We make our way slowly around the contours of imposing mountains, passing through villages that cling to their slopes, and then down into the valleys.

At one point Ceu asks to stop the car, and we get out. This is the place, she tells us, that local people named 'Jakarta', during the years of Indonesian occupation ...

Ceu: This place is called Jakarta because when the Indonesians were picking people early in the morning, they said, 'We're taking you to Jakarta', so they dumped them here.

Chris Bullock: Just describe where we are.

Ceu: We are standing on the edge of the road, and in front of us we have a deep ravine, two hills on both sides, and you can hear water, the river, and the reason they dumped them here first because it's very steep, very deep, and that they hoped that the water, given the rainy season, when there is more water than now, and the river is quite big, so it would wipe out the bones -

Chris Bullock: Took the bodies away.

Ceu: Took the bodies away. And also the remnants, those they couldn't take away, they hoped, no they expected it with the passing of time, even the bones would be washed away.

Chris Bullock: We're standing on a cliff edge effectively, and you can see it would be very difficult for anybody to go down there to recover any bodies. It would be very difficult to go down there to help anybody who might be still alive down there.

Ceu: Well people didn't know that the Indonesian military dumped bodies here.

Chris Bullock: When did they discover this?

Ceu: They discovered this because Timorese people were down with the goats, through the cutting there is a village on the other side of this ravine, and kids play. So during the dry season, people come down to fetch water, deeper and deeper into the ravine because the water recedes. That's how people discovered some bones and they spread the word around and they said, 'Ah, so those people, they have taken away and said they were sent to Jakarta were here.' And then with time, yes, people started paying attention to trucks at night, any particular noise at unusual times, wee hours in the morning, and then according to the local population, they have seen coming onto trucks, dumped bodies at night and they say 'Oh, goodbye, see you in Jakarta', something like that, making fun of it. And sometimes when you pass by, you'll see a lone candle, one or two, some flowers, and people remember the family members of this area. In Timor, so many beautiful places are marred with tragedies you know. The stain of violence and genocide in such beautiful places, it's terrible.

Chris Bullock: Above us the first clouds of the build up to the wet season are rolling in, alternately obscuring and then exposing a soaring craggy peak in the background - the summit of a mountain that looms large in the local folklore ...

Ceu: It's called Mt Ramalau and it means a lot to East Timor y'know because of the height, but also the church wanted to reinforce the mythology, so ten years ago the church invited the whole population to go to Mt Ramalau and put a cross on the peak of the mountain. Indirectly it was a message to the Indonesians that this is a sacred land, this is a Christian or Catholic land, and since then every year, every year there is a pilgrimage to celebrate that particular event.

Chris Bullock: And of course Ramalau was also significant in terms of a hiding place, a place that shielded the resistance leaders for many years?

Ceu: Yes, because the base of Ramalau is very wide. From Ramalau you go to Ermera, to Same, you can go to Ainaro, there is a huge vast area, very fertile, surrounding the mountain so when the guerillas come to Mt Ramalau it was a way to come together to a place where they could gather food, and particularly after the wet season.

Chris Bullock: It is an irony not lost on the former guerillas now leading the country that they themselves are having to deal with a rebel hiding in these mountains. And it is an environment that Alfredo likes to claim as his, in the tradition of those that went before him.

We drive for another hour and a half.

The road changes from a good bitumen surface to a tortuous, pot-holed remnant of a main road - courtesy of the annual wet season and a lack of maintenance.

Finally, we're told to stop and park the car in some thick bush, before walking up to a hilltop clearing.

At the top, some large palm fronds have been placed on the ground under a tree, forming a soft green carpet over the dry, stubbly grass.

Alfredo is clean-shaven, with a fresh haircut and nicely pressed fatigues. Along with his handful of armed sentries, he seems quite relaxed.

Commonly referred to as 'Major' Alfredo, he begins by explaining that's not his proper rank ...

Alfredo Reinado: Actually people are confusing my rank, I'm a Lieutenant Commander, I'm navy.

Chris Bullock: So Would you like me to call you Lieutenant Commander?

Alfredo Reinado: I would prefer that way, yeah, cos that's what I am.

Chris Bullock: In fact Alfredo has three berets - he has qualifications for the infantry and the military police, and he was, briefly, the commander of the East Timorese navy, which comprises two patrol boats donated by Portugal.

Alfredo is familiar with the sea. As a child he went to Indonesia, where he grew up in the fishing communities of Sulawesi and learnt the traditions of seafaring - in 'the nature style', as he calls it.

Later, back in East Timor, he joined the resistance against the Indonesians, and his seafaring skills became useful. In the mid nineties, He was asked to skipper the first East Timorese refugee boat to Australia ...

Alfredo Reinado: When I go there in 1995 it was because of order from my superior to go there to become as a refugee for some politic need, to help and support our guerilla fighter from outside and get more experience and get more support from the Timorese that in Australia

Chris Bullock: So you were asked to go to Australia?

Alfredo Reinado: I been asked to go there, by the wooden boat. There is about 18 of us, including my baby, my older son about 5 months old at that time, and I take this order cos I was saving some of my friends life and some of the ex-prisoners, some of the them is clandestine and been after by the Indonesian military, and we taking some secret letter for our friends that live in Australia, and so I just doing my job.

Chris Bullock: Was it an easy trip or a difficult one?

Alfredo Reinado: It think its not an easy one because it depend on the condition of the boat that you have, I didn't even have any map or any GPS or any compass with me, but I believe in my nature style that I learned in the traditional way of sailing, so I used this knowledge to get there.

Chris Bullock: On arrival in Australia, he was put into a refugee centre - and subsequently he and his young family lived in Melbourne and Perth. His wife and child are still in Perth, along with extended family members.

Alfredo Reinado: I have a family, I have my sisters and my father is also in Perth and my aunty who come from the Portuguese family.

Chris Bullock: Are you able to maintain any contact with them?

Alfredo Reinado: Always, yes.

Chris Bullock: You're able to talk to them on the phone?

Alfredo Reinado: Always, yes, always talk to my wife and my kid over there, always to them every night, mostly.

Chris Bullock: Every night?

Alfredo Reinado: Yes.

Chris Bullock: No matter where you are?

Alfredo Reinado: No matter, this is the first thing you have to do.

Chris Bullock: Alfredo is still young - 38 - a generation younger than the group who now govern East Timor.

His life has been that of a rebel and adventurer, sailing leaky boats across the seas, joining the resistance, becoming an asylum seeker, then returning to help rebuild his country. He came back to Australia for military training and at the time he defected, last year, he was a military police commander in Dili.

Now - at his hideout - he's constantly adjusting his thinking about what should happen next. The rhetoric has shifted as he seeks an outcome on his terms.

What he wants, he says, is a reformed justice system and he will not face court for his alleged crimes until that happens. He no longer wants the Australians in East Timor. He sees FRET ILIN, the former governing party, as his main enemy, and while he says he respects both Xanana and Ramos Horta, he also says they have betrayed him and used him as a fall guy.

Most of all, he says he's always acted in the best interests of his military colleagues, and his country. To the government of East Timor, Alfredo continues to be at least an irritant, at worst a source of rebellion. The longer he remains at large the more he appears to be beyond the reach of the rule of law.

As you'll hear he is passionate, angry, and he can be evasive. He also has a sense of humour. Surrounded by his armed protectors, whose mobile phones went off on several occasions, Alfredo began by describing why he joined the rebellion against the army, last year ...

Alfredo Reinado: We have to protect each other, and you see on the 28th they have been massacred, so I as a military police I have to stand up, because this is my duty as a military police to stand up, cos you using a force against a group of people that unarmed, against a institution member that criticise or complain for their right. So I have to stand up because if you have any problem between the military, the right unit you go to is the MP unit, but they didn't give the order to me so I just stand there and watch while they massacred the others, so I had to stand up and say this is no good this is not the way it is.

Chris Bullock: Tell me about the circumstances of your surrender, you were in prison very briefly and then you escaped from prison?

Alfredo Reinado: The word surrender is not correct because maybe you read a lot of things on the internet, because all these are propaganda and for the interests of somebody else ...

Chris Bullock: What do you call it?

Alfredo Reinado: I never surrender to anyone. The day they arrest me on the 25th of June it is because I had been authorised by the president to go down to Dili to see how to solve the crisis, because the President guarantee before that to me in writing that when I hand over my weapon maybe will guarantee to solve this crisis, even though he know that not me the one pulling the trigger to start this crisis. I go there and they arrest me one day later. And the president didn't say anything about that. So you can see how we can trust anyone at the moment, even the leader of the nation.

Chris Bullock: How did you get out of jail in Dili?

Alfredo Reinado: I just walk out from the door that I get in, I didn't do anything wrong.

Chris Bullock: People will find it very strange that you can just walk out of a prison door?

Alfredo Reinado: Very strange because this is a public prison and you put military, more than 10 military that are well trained, MP, and you put inside, we can teach them how to arrest people and look after people, but they can't look after us. The New Zealand military always have security outside and checking me all the time, hour after hour, always check me in my jail, but somehow you manage it, without harming anyone, without threatening anyone, nothing. I just tell them that I want to go out. They let me go ...

Chris Bullock: You had support there, obviously?

Alfredo Reinado: Oh you can't say support, but I never harm anyone or harm any civilians.

Chris Bullock: What happened at the police border post with the weapons? Were they handed to you voluntarily, did you confiscate weapons, what happened?

Alfredo Reinado: OK, they handle it voluntarily .

Chris Bullock: Why did you need them?

Alfredo Reinado: Why I need them because when my weapon been given to the president, all of my weapon, the president guarantee that this crisis would end. So I already give it to them but no guarantee it. You see what happened in Dili? Getting worse, the gangs is everywhere, And that time is illegal weapon with the Fretilin group is everyday is more and more. They have a lot of group everywhere, even I am part of the enemy, there are orders from those groups to kill me, so how I can save myself.

Chris Bullock: So what you are telling me is you were given those weapons by a police unit, they volunteered those weapons to you?

Alfredo Reinado: I explain to you. So based on that threat that I have so I have to go to where to find a weapon. And you know that border police, that's the one involved in the crisis also because those weapons that been issued to the illegal group, that being armed by the Fretilin party, all the weapon come from the border police, so I think it is the right place for me to go get some too for me ...

Chris Bullock: These are Indonesian weapons?

Alfredo Reinado: No, this is the weapon that's been donated from Malaysia to the border police, altogether is 180 and been given to the border police, so I go there also to get only a number..

Chris Bullock: How many weapons did you have, were you given?

Alfredo Reinado: Ah, eighteen from the two border that I go and I never harm anyone, nobody been pinched or punched or anything, we go there and drinking coffee and have a nice talk and say there we go. And I took a weapon to protect those victim and the people that have been threatened everywhere in the district by these illegal groups, so I have to protect them, and this is my duty as a military to do so.

Chris Bullock: Although Alfredo said his group took the guns for self-defence - in a friendly handover with a cup of coffee - the government in Dili decided it had to act. This was several months after Alfredo had escaped from jail and there had been concerted efforts to negotiate another surrender. But in the words of the then Prime Minister, now President Ramos Horta ... 'he confiscated weapons from the police, what were we supposed to do, stand back and watch?'

They didn't stand back and watch, they called in the Australian Special Forces.

Alfredo repeats some extraordinary accusations about the actions of Australian soldiers towards wounded members of his group. Five people died, and Alfredo insists many of the victims were not armed fighters ...

Alfredo Reinado: I tell you, many of the guys died there or injured is a civilian, unarmed.

Chris Bullock: They weren't armed with weapons?

Alfredo Reinado: They didn't have any weapons, in a civilian dress being shot by the Australian special force, they shoot these people unarmed and they break their necks while they injured ...

Chris Bullock: How do you know that?

Alfredo Reinado: I know it, everybody know it because I have my eye.

Chris Bullock: You saw this?

Alfredo Reinado: Of course, or you can go to hospital. Why is in hospital the data about all these five dead people, the hospital didn't have it. My government didn't have that, my lawyers here didn't have that, because the Australians took them all, they want to hide this, things that can prove it and they are against the Geneva Convention and human rights in this country. And what happened to those dead bodies and what happen to those children who lost their father and those mothers who lost their children and those wife who lost their husband, who is responsible for that?

Chris Bullock: Given the reputation of the Australian SAS, people were very surprised that you walked away from there?

Alfredo Reinado: You see, different nature, different style. This is my home, if you visit me I tell you where is the toilet, where is the kitchen, not you to tell me. Imagine if I have the same technology that the Australians have in that time. They use 3 Hercules for those SAS parachute, and they using about 6 helicopter, you have 2 navy Chinook coming in the middle of the night, and you have all Blackhawk and the machine gun ...shhhhp ... you have the night vision everywhere, you have the special force in the ground, special force in the air, and I can get through your leg, shame. You lucky I'm not have the same system that you have. I wake you up in the bed, this is my nature not Australia, this is East Timor. Maybe they train to be a good military but we all born we already know what is the sound of the weapons, we already feel the bullet fly to our ear, so don't come here and do this thing to me.

Chris Bullock: Alfredo gets very worked up when talking about the battle at Same, going so far as comparing it to the Vietnam War ...

Alfredo Reinado: If Australian want to have a war in East Timor, if Australian government want to create a war in East Timor, if I am still alive I will bring this war back to Australia. This is not a Vietnam of Australia, so don't create that like the war they have in Vietnam. Whoever leading the nation and whoever leading the military at the time have the responsibility for the Same incident and one day will have to go to the tribunal. You see how you fight for your five dead in Balibo, we fight more than that, it is a matter of time to tell.

Chris Bullock: The Australian Defence Force has carried out what it calls a 'post-operation investigation' into the Same incident - an internal review - which cleared the Australian soldiers of wrong-doing. And the ADF says autopsies of the five dead men showed their necks were not broken.

Just before meeting Alfredo Reinado, I was in the town of Same with Late Night Live presenter, Phillip Adams. There we spoke with a witness to the assault on Alfredo's group.

Francisco Marcal knows Alfredo well, and his house is half-way down the hill where the operation took place. Francisco Marcal had a front row view, and he described it through our interpreter, Ceu ...

Francisco Marcal (interpreted): That evening on Saturday it was 1.55am when the helicopters, two helicopters approached the area. We heard the shooting start, we only heard it from Alfredo's side, not from the Australians weapons, because we knew they were silenced. The shooting went on until 4.30 in the morning, and only when the sun came up we heard people screaming here, saying oh there is dead people, and the injured people were screaming a lot, they said they were in pain, asking for people to come and look after the people in pain.

The first one to die we heard him screaming and we wanted to go and pick him up, but as we approached we had the forces facing us with the weapons and they said no, we don't want anybody here. While this person was screaming he had a phone so he rang Alfre do's group to say he had been hit and he was dying, so they rang me to say could I look and do something for this person. He said no, we tried but they don't allow us to approach, it is better you call the East Timor Red Cross. So they called the East Timor Red Cross but as they the troops just stopped them, so he screamed and then we heard silence and we found out he was dead. Then the forces were the ones who put them in the helicopter and took them to Dili or somewhere.

Phillip Adams: I must ask you this. Is Alfredo regarded by everyone here as a heroic figure or are some people angry with him because he brought violence to your community?

Francisco Marcal (interpreted): I can only speak about the population inside Same, because I haven't had time to go around on the outskirts to find out how people feel about Alfredo. So when he arrived here the population inside the city of Same thought he was a buffer zone from the problems in Dili to reach outside districts and, they knew his presence would stop other problems to get here because there was already an opposition in place. When he arrived in Same a big number of the population in the city greeted him and helped him with food, every time he came to Same.

Chris Bullock: The failure of the Same operation to capture Alfredo Reinado was a surprise and an embarrassment, for the East Timorese leadership, and for the ADF. And it emboldened Alfredo - giving him bragging rights.

More than six months later, the government and the President have called off the military pursuit and tried to re-engage Alfredo in talks.

But he still refuses to put down his weapon, and he mocks the notion that he is in hiding. He says he goes down to the capital, Dili, often ...

Alfredo Reinado: I can go to Dili any time I like.

Chris Bullock: Do you?

Alfredo Reinado: Why not, I always there. Sometimes go and have a fun, have a coffee. Why not that's my home. But did Alfredo cause any trouble anywhere, do anybody in this country come to you or come to president and say, 'Alfredo do this to me'? Or they come to them as a president and say 'thanks for Alfredo', and in their heart they also say that, thanks for Alfredo so they can have the success of the election in this country. Without me there will be trouble everywhere, without me people kill each other everywhere. I sacrifice my life for that, for my people to have their own democratic party and to have those politicians to have their happiness.

Chris Bullock: You can speak to me and the occasional journalist from the bush, from the mountains, from down by the sea, from wherever you are in East Timor ...?

Alfredo Reinado: Free country, this is democratic country they say.

Chris Bullock: But that's a very limited voice?

Alfredo Reinado: You have any trouble to bring you through here, only the distance but this is the condition of our nature.

Chris Bullock: Wouldn't you like to be able to say, 'come around to my house', in Same, in Suai, have a coffee ... not drive for six hours up into the mountains and ...?

Alfredo Reinado: Am I in the mountain, you see more people live up there in the mountain higher than me. You want me to order a pizza for you, I can order from here (laughs) or you want to have a cappuccino, I can have it up here. I have more better life up here and who those politician down there, because they scared, they threat, they always hide. I'm not, I'm a man that in a free life, free spirit in a free country, and I'm a military. This is my duty to be around everywhere in the jungle and everywhere in the village, and not like those military sitting in their office, all the time in the air condition while their own people killing each other outside, while the security in the country not being secure.

And Australians come here, have a nice swim and are driving around, I always see them, they didn't know who I am, they passing here with their own car, nice car, hire car and Landrover, everywhere they're always patrolling. Sometimes I'm passing, they're asleep inside their blanket, but they do their job, they're tired, they been driving around the country everywhere. I say hi, I hide my weapon and I pass through, see ya! They are not my enemy.

Chris Bullock: It can be a little difficult to work out who is Alfredo's enemy. The government is hoping time will be his enemy - that if a sense of stability returns along with some optimism, Alfredo will be lose his relevance. In the meantime they want to avoid giving him the oxygen of publicity, while trying to restart a dialogue.

When I suggest to Alfredo that the political environment has changed with the new government, he disagrees. He says Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta have simply swapped chairs, and he seems less than impressed with President Horta's initiatives to negotiate a surrender ...

Alfredo Reinado: You say different, I say no, 50-50 ...

Chris Bullock: There is a different prime minister?

Alfredo Reinado: Of course, just changing that chair.

Chris Bullock: I think the change is that the government is taking a more conciliatory approach to you ... Xanana Gusmao as prime minister has set up a task force to deal with your issues, the president has asked a Timorese NGO and a Swiss based organisation to continue dialogue with you ... what more can the government do, the two leaders are coming very much towards you?

Alfredo Reinado: No, if you say a local NGO, it not exist, that group is created by us and I'm a part of it. And about the Geneva team that come in, they been getting 5 million dollars to pay for them to do this dialogue and the only thing they done is my meeting with the president, that's all.

Chris Bullock: That's pretty good, meeting the president, isn't it, on your terms on your ground?

Alfredo Reinado: It's good for me, or good for them?

Chris Bullock: I'm asking you?

Alfredo Reinado: I think it's good for them.

Chris Bullock: It's not good for you?

Alfredo Reinado: No. You don't know what happened in the country. Without me there is already a civil war. You see, where is the security that been provided by this government for the two processes that happened, election for president and election for parliament, which guarantee can they give? All the security is packed up in Dili, and crime in Dili they cant solve it until today, and they been using this bloody criminal, as they say, in propaganda everywhere in the campaign, they blame me that I'm the trouble maker in this nation.

What happen with those people using the politic difference to kill each other, did I ever make a vote for them.

Chris Bullock: Don't you want to be part of that political solution?

Alfredo Reinado: No.

Chris Bullock: Are you sure?

Alfredo Reinado: My duty as a military to guarantee the security and stability for my nation. That's my task, that's my job.

Chris Bullock: The principles about which you speak could best be applied in a political sense, surely?

Alfredo Reinado: What I'm saying being used by them for the political interest. They go there and they give a lot of promises to the people, if we win Alfredo will be like this ... and they guarantee, people vote them because of that. But after that, what happen now?

Chris Bullock: OK, tell me then exactly the circumstances, the conditions on which you place your willingness to put down you gun?

Alfredo Reinado: No, don't put this, why I have to put down the gun, put down the gun ...

Chris Bullock: Because that's what they're asking you to do?

Alfredo Reinado: Yeah they asking. If I put the gun down, they guarantee they can give the stability in the nation, they guarantee they can solve the crisis. I told them, not just the gun, if you want me dead I can guarantee you I go down in Dili in public, hang myself, if you guarantee the stability in this country. It is not a matter of weapon, I can have a nuclear weapon in my hand, it is a matter of what purpose do you use this weapon for, who holding it. I am trained to walk around with the weapon, but what about the others. So I put the weapon there, it solve the crisis? I give the weapon, solve the crisis? I can get another thousand from somewhere.

Chris Bullock: But Alfredo I'm asking you because that is their condition, correct?

Alfredo Reinado: Their own condition, not my condition ...

Chris Bullock: So is that condition ever going to change though, realistically?

Alfredo Reinado: If they want to solve the crisis they have to change, not go through what they want to.

Chris Bullock: OK, so what are you conditions then?

Alfredo Reinado: Condition. You fix the judicial sector.

Chris Bullock: This is Alfredo's main condition, now - fix the judicial sector. He says the legal system in East Timor has been corrupted by advisers, lawyers, and judges brought in from the Portuguese speaking countries - the group of nations known as the CPLP.

Alfredo says he cannot, and will not, trust them to give him a fair trial - he insists on having Timorese judges and prosecutors, operating under Timorese laws ...

Alfredo Reinado: Many of these people come from the CPLP countries, they are poor people, they unemployed people, come to work here with the high pay so they want to stay here even longer and play around with the judicial system because they make living with it. Those countries come here, Portuguese speaking countries that come here, mostly Angola, Mozambique, Brazilian, Portuguese, Guinea Bissau, all those poor Africans that until now they still kill each other, they have their dictator system ... and you have Portugal, they think they are somebody but they're the poorest country in Europe, and they have the most criminal in Europe, and they come here to implement this justice for us. We are the ones who suffer. If I have a judicial system of my country of East Timorese, the judge have to be Timorese, prosecutor have to be Timorese, everything have to be Timorese, under Timorese law, not by the CPLP.

Chris Bullock: The use of advisers, lawyers and others from the CPLP countries to rewrite laws in Portuguese, and to get the justice system up and running, has been controversial - especially with studies suggesting less than 10% of the population understands Portuguese, and even fewer can read it.

But Alfredo goes further. He says he will appear before a Timorese judge and a Timorese prosecutor, only if he is accompanied to the witness box by the political leaders, Xanana Gusmao, Jose Ramos Horta and Mari Alkatiri ... and the public prosecutor ... to answer for the events of the past 18 months ...

Alfredo Reinado: I go there voluntarily, but I not go alone, because those leaders have the responsibility also, to go one by one, and confess. Don't blame me. You think Mr Xanana innocent, Mr Ramos Horta innocent, Alkatiri innocent and his group innocent, you think prosecutor is innocent? So he thinks innocent we go there and answer one by one then.

Chris Bullock: Who is asking the questions though?

Alfredo Reinado: Ah ha, you ask them.

Chris Bullock: It seems your conditions either cannot be met, or will not be met?

Alfredo Reinado: Let the people decide then ...

Chris Bullock: How do the people decide on your position without you?

Alfredo Reinado: If this government can't solve this crisis maybe people can set a new government, if this judicial system can't be implemented, people can set the new judicial system. Ask the people, don't ask me. You go ask anyone, who is Alfredo and what does Alfredo do, what is Alfredo standing for.

Chris Bullock: Can you tell me where you think you will be in 6 months, or in 12 months time?

Alfredo Reinado: I will be alive and well in my country ... 6 months is not long for me, even six years, I'm OK.

Chris Bullock: How many people do you have with you, around you?

Alfredo Reinado: I can't count them, they are too much.

Chris Bullock: Do you think they have the same resolve that you have?

Alfredo Reinado: If I am not holding them, I don't know what happen in this country.

Chris Bullock: And if this government gains public popularity, if more and more people start to believe that this government is doing a good job, their policies are good, they're happy, there is stability ...?

Alfredo Reinado: If they can implement that I support them, I fully support them and I wish also they can do this, and that is why until today I didn't say anything, I always wait for the decision because they're promising a lot of things and they promise how to find a solution to solve this crisis and I trust in them, Mr President, to the prime minister, if they can do this thanks God!

Chris Bullock: And you're not concerned you'd be left behind?

Alfredo Reinado: Why I have to left behind. What I'm losing, I have nothing to lose. Day by day my number is counting up, day by day their time is counting down. So what I'm losing? If I die today or tomorrow, I'm die with smile, I'm proud of it. Don't worry about me, Alfredo is not hungry, not at all.

THEME

Chris Bullock: Coordinating Producer is Linda McGinness. Research, Anna Whitfeld. Technical Production by Mark Don. Background Briefing 's Executive Producer is Kirsten Garrett. And I'm Chris Bullock.