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Timor-Leste: police officer being investigated for shooting suspended - UN

4 January 2010 – The police officer under investigation for last week’s deadly shooting in Timor-Leste has been suspended from duty, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, known as UNMIT, announced today.

“We suspended the PNTL [Timorese National Police] officer concerned, effective from 2 January, due to the gravity of the alleged misconduct and in order to allow an objective disciplinary inquiry,” said Acting UN Police Commissioner Ibrahim Idris.

Late in the evening of 28 December, members of the PNTL and UN Police (UNPOL) arrived at a scene in the Comoro area of Dili, the national capital, and called for backup.

A PNTL detachment responded to the situation, in which one person was killed and another injured by gunshots, allegedly fired by a PNTL officer.

“UNPOL and PNTL take this matter with the utmost seriousness, and the internal investigation will be completed thoroughly and without delay,” said Mr. Idris. “The Acting General Commander and I have signed the Dispatch Order of Suspension in accordance with the provisions of PNTL disciplinary regulations.”

Following the incident, UNMIT called on all people to remain calm as the police complete their investigation.

For its part, the mission’s Human Rights and Transitional Justice Unit will carry out a separate inquiry into the incident.

The UN has been handing over policing responsibilities to Timor-Leste as part of the gradual transfer of the security functions it assumed in 2006 after dozens of people were killed and 155,000 others – 15 per cent of the population – were driven from their homes in an eruption of violence in the newly independent country.

Last month, the PNTL resumed responsibility over the Police Intelligence Service, the seventh police entity that UNMIT has handed back.

PNTL has already resumed responsibility in four districts – Lautem, Oecusse, Manatuto and Viqueque – as well as for the Police Training Centre and the Maritime Unit.

UNMIT, set up in 2006 to replace several earlier missions in the small South-East Asian country that the UN shepherded to independence in 2002 after it voted to separate from Indonesia, currently has some 1,550 police and 30 military liaison officers on the ground.

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