Timor president leaves hospital

Ramos-Horta discharged after assassination attempt pledging to return "soon".

    Ramos-Horta, centre, thanked medical staff
    for their "care and patience" [AFP]
    "I would like to thank you all for your care and patience," said Ramos-Horta who had noticably lost weight during his treatment.

    "My message to my people is please forgo violence"

    Jose Ramos-Horta

    "My message to my people is please forgo violence and hatred with weapons, machetes, with arson - we only destroy each other and the country," he told reporters.
     

    Rebels ambushed Ramos-Horta during an early morning walk on February 11, and also targeted Xanana Gusmao, the prime minister, in a separate attack on the same day.

     
    Ramos-Horta was shot several times in the attack in which rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was killed, while Gusmao escaped unharmed.

     

    'Every detail'

     

    Ramos-Horta said he remembered bleeding heavily and being fully conscious after the shooting as he was taken in "a very old battered ambulance" to an Australian medical centre in East Timor's capital, Dili.

     

    "I remember every detail from the moment I was shot," he said.

     

    "On the way to the heliport I fell off the chair a few times because there were no belts.

     

    "I remember even though I was bleeding I was holding on tight. And I was telling the driver, 'go slow'.

     

    "But maybe he was wise because it was only a matter of minutes for me to arrive there. And then I arrived here in your hands. I thank all of you," he said, fighting back tears.

     

    The 58-year-old underwent six operations and spent 10 days in a medically induced coma.

     

    A hospital spokeswoman said Ramos-Horta "needs some physiotherapy and doctors would like to keep an eye on him".

     

    In East Timor arrest warrants have been issued against 17 people suspected of involvement in the attacks, including Gastao Salsinha, who took command of the rebels after Reinado's death.

     

    The country's prosecutor-general said Salsinha had planned to surrender last week but changed his mind and now says he wants to wait until Ramos-Horta returns from recuperating in Australia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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