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Cablegate: Update From Afp On International Policing in Dili

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2718
INFO RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2043
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0551
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0386
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0405
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0481
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0275
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000325

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
NSC FOR HOLLY MORROW
USUN FOR GORDON OLSON AND RICHARD MCCURRY
USPACOM FOR JOC AND POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/20/2016
TAGS: MOPS ASEC PHUM AU PO NZ TT
SUBJECT: UPDATE FROM AFP ON INTERNATIONAL POLICING IN DILI

REF: (A) DILI 301; (B) DILI 316

DILI 00000325 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Elizabeth S. Wharton, Political Officer, Embassy
Dili, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b)

1. (C) Summary: Emboff met yesterday with Australian Federal
Police (AFP) Commander Steve Lancaster to review the current
status of international policing in Dili. Lancaster reported
that the international police have not yet reached full
capacity, primarily due to a delay in the arrival of the
Malaysian contingent, and are therefore continuing to take a low
profile in joint patrols with international military forces.
The AFP assesses the security situation in Dili as steadily
improving and notes the arrest on Sunday of a former police
commander implicated in a number of gang attacks as progress on
this front. However, Lancaster expressed concerns about a
possible spike in violence if the President moves to dismiss the
Prime Minister, a development expected tomorrow (see septels).
He reported that the AFP has now established a liaison function
to review security arrangements for Dili's multiple internally
displaced persons (IDP) camps. Lancaster provided an overview
of the AFP's investigations into recent high-profile incidents
including the May 25 police massacre. Finally, he discussed AFP
concerns about working with the national police (PNTL) and
worries that the PNTL might be brought back into action too
early. End summary.

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Coordination and planning of international policing
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) In a meeting with Emboff on June 19, AFP Commander
Steve Lancaster provided an update of the current status of
international policing in Dili. He reported that current
international police presence in Dili remains at approximately
180 AFP and 120 Portuguese Republican National Guard (GNR). The
Australian police presence will increase within the week to
approximately 200 where it will remain. The arrival of 250
Malaysian police is still expected, although it has been
delayed, probably until next week. Although New Zealand had
expressed interest in providing some policing support, there has
been to date no explicit political commitment and Lancaster is
now skeptical that a New Zealand policing contribution will come
through.

3. (C) The AFP is continuing to implement the five-phase
approach to establishing international policing described in Ref
A. At present, they remain in between phases II and III, with
the military still out front. Under this arrangement,
international police are still operating on the city sector
system whereby AFP officers are conducting joint patrols with
the Australian, Malaysian, and New Zealand military forces in
their respective zones, while the GNR continue to operate in
their own zone with no military counterparts. Lancaster reports
that this sector approach will be abolished once all the
international police are in country and they move fully to phase
III of the policing plan in which police will supplant military
forces in taking primary responsibility for security. At that
point he expects all police to operate city-wide with
responsibilities broken down by function rather than geography.

4. (SBU) Lancaster reported that coordination among the
different police contingents is going well. He expects the
Malaysians to be smoothly integrated into the joint operation
and continues to be highly complementary of the GNR's
coordination with AFP despite the earlier concerns regarding
Portugal's refusal to integrate the GNR into the Australian
command.

Dili security assessment
------------------------

5. (C) Lancaster reported the AFP's assessment that the security
situation in Dili is steadily improving. However, he expressed
concern that the next 7 to 14 days could produce a new spike in

DILI 00000325 002.2 OF 003


security incidents if the President goes ahead with plans to
dismiss the Prime Minister, as is now expected to take place
tomorrow. See Ref B. Meanwhile, resource constraints have
prevented the AFP from moving forward with identification and
apprehension of leaders of gang violence. Investigations into
the gangs currently remain in the hands of the ADF, who have
produced a list of "persons of interest" for further
investigation. Although the ADF has been unable to pin down
precisely the leadership of gangs involved in recent violence,
they believe they have significantly disrupted their operations.


6. (C) Lancaster reported one success in pursuing the
instigators of violence in Dili with the arrest last night of
Abilio Mesquita, the former deputy district police commander in
Liquica. Mesquita is alleged to have played a leading role in
much of the violence that has plagued Dili in recent weeks. The
arrest was preceded on Saturday by a search of his house in
Liquica during which a half dozen long-barreled firearms were
seized and three other persons arrested. Although Mesquita is
currently being held only on charges of illegal firearms
possession, Lancaster said he believes investigations into his
recent activities will uncover further offenses and that his
removal from the scene is a positive development for Dili's
security.

IDP camp security liaison established
-------------------------------------

7. (U) Lancaster reported that the AFP, in coordination with
ADF, recently established a liaison officer for IDP camp
security issues. The liaison officer is attending all UNHCR
coordination meetings and will be visiting each major IDP camp
at least once each week to talk to camp residents and to assess
security issues and needs.

Investigations into April 28 and May 25 incidents
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (C) Lancaster reported that the AFP is moving forward with
investigative work but is facing some challenges in doing so.
The three high priority investigations on which they are
focusing most of their resources include: allegations of
multiple extra-judicial killings during the FDTL response to
rioting on April 28; the case of the family of six killed inside
their house when it was burned on May 25, and the massacre of
ten unarmed Timorese police officers under UN escort on May 25.

9. (C) Lancaster reported that the investigation into the
massacre of ten unarmed police by FDTL members on May 25 is
currently stalled due to the AFP investigator's lack of the
proper authorization to interview witnesses. UN witnesses were
to be interviewed only once permission was received from the UN
in New York. However, this permission is apparently contingent
on the reception of a request from the GOET to allow the AFP to
conduct the investigation. Foreign and Defense Minister Jose
Ramos Horta had indicated that he would relay this request
formally to the UN, but Lancaster reports that the letter has
not yet been sent. Meanwhile, the interview of East Timorese
witnesses is held up because it requires the authorization of
the Prosecutor General's office, which Lancaster says has also
not been forthcoming. He expressed his concern that the GOET
may be reluctant to smooth the way for this investigation
despite earlier expressions by Ramos-Horta of support of the AFP
investigation. Moreover, he expressed his fear that there may
be an inclination to pin responsibility on the individual
shooters while avoiding an examination of culpability further up
the command chain.

10. (SBU) The investigation into the death of a family of six
found in a house that was burned down on May 25 was briefly held
up when the bodies disappeared from the morgue before forensics
could be conducted. However, this was discovered to be an
innocent miscommunication as relatives had retrieved the bodies

DILI 00000325 003.2 OF 003


for burial and morgue officials failed to coordinate this with
the forensics team. Arrangements were then made to return the
bodies to Dili for forensic investigation. The forensic team
concluded that all deaths were caused by smoke inhalation as no
other injuries or causes of death were identified.

11. (SBU) The third major investigation being carried out by the
AFP is into the allegations of up to 60 deaths during the FDTL
response to the April 28 riots in Tasi Tolu. Lancaster reported
that the AFP is not encountering any bureaucratic challenges
with proceeding with this investigation. However, he says it
has been difficult to track down any "credible" witnesses, so
that to date the investigation "doesn't have much flesh on its
bones."

12. (C) During a previous meeting with Emboffs Lancaster had
also reported that the AFP would be investigating the claims of
the "Fretilin Secret Security" force in Liquica district who
claim that they were armed by former Minister of Interior
Rogerio Lobato on orders from Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
However, during today's conversation Lancaster indicated a
reluctance on the part of the AFP to get involved in cases that
have a heavy political component and implied that the AFP would
probably not be pursuing this investigation. (Note: The
Prosecutor General's issuance today of a warrant for the arrest
of former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato in connection with
this case will no doubt result in re-engagement of the AFP in
investigating this case. Septel with further information to
follow shortly. End note.)

Relations with the Ministry of Interior and PNTL
--------------------------------------------- ---

13. (C) Lancaster expressed his concern that new Minister of
Interior Alcino Barris is trying to push the PNTL back into
action too quickly. In Lancaster's view, many issues need to be
addressed before the PNTL can start to be reintegrated into
policing work in Dili. Most important, he noted, is the need to
address the fragmentation of the police force before its members
begin working together again. In addition, the question of
leadership of the PNTL remains outstanding. The AFP believes
that Paulo Martins, the current National Police Commissioner,
will not be a player in the future of the PNTL but cannot name
anyone they consider capable of filling the commissioner
position. In a separate conversation, international advisors to
Minister Barris stated to Emboff that the AFP's concerns may be
based on miscommunication with the Minister. According to the
advisors, the Minister will not be pushing for early
reintegration of PNTL into Dili policing duties, but has been
frustrated with what he regards as a lack of coordination by AFP.
REES

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