Northern Rivers documentary-makers Chris McIlwrath and Leilani Gaze, of Byron Bay, in East Timor last year making a film about
Northern Rivers documentary-makers Chris McIlwrath and Leilani Gaze, of Byron Bay, in East Timor last year making a film about

Byron film-maker's terrifying ordeal in Timor

By Will Jackson

BYRON BAY documentary film-maker Leilani Gaze is determined to stay on in East Timor, despite the terrifying ordeal she underwent on her arrival in the country.

The 21-year-old yesterday said she was simply 'in the wrong place at the wrong time' on Monday when she was caught up in the arrest of an escaped prisoner.

Leilani had just met up with a male friend, with whom she had hoped to stay in Dili, when the plainclothes Australian soldiers moved.

They were intent on arresting the man, who they believed to be an associate of fugitive rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, and one of the 600 soldiers sacked from the country's army last year.

Leilani was blindfolded and taken to a military base where she was asked to strip before being searched and photographed, and then released. The whole ordeal took about five hours.

"It was all a bit surreal and over the top," she said. Leilani had no complaints about her own treatment, but said she was 'pissed off about how the East Timorese civilians were disrespected'.

Commander of the Australian forces in East Timor, Brigadier Mal Reardon, said Leilani was arrested because she was part of a group that included an escaped prisoner.

The treatment she received was standard practice and complied with international policies and guidelines.



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