Sun, 17 Jun 2001
I sent the article below a few months ago and find that very little has happened in the case and I am afraid it may be put off further with the up coming elections and then quietly forgotten about.
The forensic tests found it to be Dr Sergio Lobo’s wife’s blood on the piece of wood he hit her with. As there were eye witnesses this is not anything really new. The prosecutor has declared a conflict of interest as he knows Dr Sergio Lobo so another prosecutor will be taking over. In the mean time Dr Sergio is free and his wife is still in hiding and not able to get on with her life.
Top members of ETTA have been heard to say, ‘Well she is Indonesian and he is her husband’.
This case seems to be taking a long time to get to court and with attitudes like the above I feel justice may not be done. With domestic violence being common here and Dr Sergio being a well-known figure the case could be a big move to make it clear that domestic violence is not expectable and illegal.
Perhaps it is time for the international community to voice their concern.
26 March 2001
KKN (corruption, collusion and nepotism) was rife under Indonesian occupation. Independence brought the hope that all would be equal under the law and the judiciary would be independent. Dr Sergio Lobo, former chairman of the Department of Health for ETTA (East Timor Transitional Authority), has been accused of viciously assaulting his wife in front of witnesses. Has he been treated the same as anyone else accused of this crime? Unfortunately not. It seems that Indonesia has left but equality under the law still does not exist.
Dr Sergio Lobo, chairman of the department of health, and a surgeon beat his wife over the head with a piece of wood and injected her in the back with a syringe. Then as she lay on the floor he continued to verbally abuse her. This was not a spontaneous emotional reaction but pre meditated. His wife was in hiding due to previous beatings. He discovered where she was and carrying a piece of wood and a syringe down his sock he drove there. She not surprisingly refused to go home with him so, in front of witnesses; he beat her with the stick and stabbed her with the syringe with such force it bent in her shoulder blade. As she lay unconscious he continued to shout insults and threaten to kill her. The police were informed but he was not detained.
This was not the first time. The 15 years of their marriage has been marred by frequent incidents of domestic violence. In 1989 and 1990 he beat her with his hands and a belt. In 1994 his wife went to hospital twice due to the severity of his beatings. In 1995 he hit his wife’s head against a wall, hit her with leather shoes and a piece of electric cable. She left him and went into a convent for two years but returned because of her children. In November 2000 he threw all of her belongings out and punched her until she passed out His parents said he had threatened to kill their children in front of her. She had stayed for the sake of her children but in fear of her life she ran to the police (CIVPOL) for protection and then went into hiding.
The beating with the wood and syringe happened on 4th February 2001when he discovered her hiding place. Witnesses reported it to the police (CIVPOL). He was not arrested. The investigative judge did not order his detention. The police involved were disgusted at this and refused to sign the papers that required the accused to just report twice a week and demanding that he be detained. Dr Sergio Lobo has not complied with this order to report to the police. He has actually been out of the country. Would the average person have got off so lightly and be able to ignore court orders with impunity?
In contrast his wife is in a state of trauma and is in constant fear of another attack by her husband or by a third party at his instructions. Thus she is the prisoner in hiding. In fact ironically the prosecutor asked the victim not to go out anywhere because of the danger from her husband. The judiciary, investigative judge and the police have a responsibility to respect the victim’s rights to be free from the feeling of fear and intimidation. They have not. They have actually violated her rights by not detaining him. The victim had the right to be heard at the review hearing before the investigating judge. She was not informed and her views were not heard. The victim has the right to be kept informed of the progress of the case. This has not happened. The victim’s lawyers have made these points in writing and orally to the investigative judge and the prosecutor and have not received a response. The victim seems to be intentionally ignored by the investigative judge and the prosecutor. Her husband’s position in the East Timor Transitional Authority may have something to do with this. Government ministers were treated favorably under the law during the Indonesian occupation also.
The case will go to court when the result of forensic tests on the piece of wood and the syringe are complete. However, it remains to be seen if the judiciary can be free, fair and independent or if the justice system is still linked to position and wealth.
BD: East Timorese Women's Issues - A collection of recent information, petitions, articles and news