Subject: Proof military Balibo 'ordered deaths'

Also: The day the military murdered our boys

Proof military 'ordered deaths'

December 09, 2006 12:00am Article from: Daily Telegraph

FIVE young Australians were executed on the orders of Indonesian military chiefs, according to sensational evidence omitted from official government reports.

The statement by a top lawyer, George Brownbill, contradicts the official line that the five men, all journalists, were caught in a crossfire in Balibo while covering Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975.

The Saturday Daily Telegraph has learned that Mr Brownbill will be called as a key witness at the first inquest into the tragedy - to be held at the New South Wales Coroners Court early next year.

Mr Brownbill said he saw a telexed intelligence report, marked Top Secret, of covertly-intercepted radio traffic between an officer commanding Indonesian forces in East Timor and his bosses in Jakarta.

Intercepted just hours after the killings, it said: "In accordance with your instructions" the five had been located and shot.

The officer then asked his superior for orders about what to do with the bodies and the journalists' personal effects. The bodies were looted and burned.

Channel 9 cameraman Brian Peters, 29, and reporter Malcolm Rennie, 28, Channel 7 reporter Greg Shackleton, 27, cameraman Gary Cunningham, 27, and sound recordist Tony Stewart, 21, all died at Balibo on October 16, 1975.

In evidence which will further embarrass the Australian Government over its relationship with Indonesia, investigators with the NSW coronial unit have been told the explosive intelligence cable may still exist.

Mr Brownbill made his statement reluctantly in 1999 to former National Crime Authority head Tom Sherman, who was conducting the second government inquiry into the deaths of the journalists.

While it backed up other evidence, Mr Sherman made no mention of Mr Brownbill's claims in his report, which concluded the men had died in a "monumental blunder" during fire between the invading Indonesians and East Timor's Fretelin forces.

Mr Brownbill was secretary to the Hope Royal Commission into the nation's intelligence and security when he visited the sensitive Defence Signals Directorate at Shoal Bay near Darwin in 1977.

He said in his statement that a young man handed a piece of paper to him and fellow royal commission investigator Ian Cunliffe, saying: "You people should know about this."

Mr Cunliffe told Mr Sherman in 1999 that Mr Brownbill had not been happy about the cable being revealed because "his inclination is to let sleeping dogs lie".

While Mr Cunliffe's evidence was made public, the contents of the cable seen by Mr Brownbill was not.

The Department of Defence and Defence Signals Directorate are refusing to hand over the secret documents to the inquest, claiming public interest immunity.

Lawyers for the families of the five men will ask NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch on Thursday to overturn a decision and allow them to call former prime minister Gough Whitlam and senior ministers from 1975 to ask them what they knew.

"We want to be able to say when the inquest is finished that all reasonable questions have been asked and answered which will lead to the truth of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these five journalists," solicitor Rodney Lewis said yesterday.

"These guys were simply bringing the news to us while we warmed our toes in the loungeroom watching TV.

"They were our eyes and ears and yet people have said about them that they put themselves in danger. They were doing their job."


The day the military murdered our boys

December 09, 2006 12:00am

Article from: Daily Telegraph

INDONESIAN security forces lost no time in closing the lid on their dark secret after the murders of the five young Australian journalists in Balibo. In the days after the deaths and with Australian foreign affairs officials trying to find out what happened, chief of the Indonesian Secret Service Organisation, Louis Taolin, told his men to lie.

"He told me that I was not to tell anybody about what happened," Jose Martins, an East Timorese freedom fighter later told UN civilian police after his country had won its independence in 1999.

"Taolin had prepared a statement for me, and said that I had to sign it. I was afraid not to do so.

"I was told by Taolin that the Australians had to die because they had taken photographs that showed the Indonesian Army was fighting the Fretilin."

The two news crews from Channel 9 in Sydney and Channel 7 in Melbourne had filmed proof that Indonesia was behind the invasion of East Timor, contradicting claims that fighting on the island was the result of an internal coup.

The newsmen - Nine's Brian Peters, 29, and Malcolm Rennie, 28, and Seven's Greg Shackleton, 27, Gary Cunningham, 27, and Tony Stewart, 21 - returned to Balibo with the footage on October 15, 1975.

They spent the evening lounging around the village, sharing a few beers and a bottle of Portuguese red.

They were sleeping rough on the floor of one of the village's 12 houses, a white shack known locally as the Chinaman's. The Aussies had dubbed it the "embassy" and daubed an Australian flag on a wall.

Now, after 30 years, the families of the five journalists may finally be getting close to the truth of what happened in the village on the morning of October 16.

The UN police, who in 2000 prepared a brief of evidence recommending war crimes charges against three Indonesian soldiers, said the circumstances of the deaths made "nightmare reading".

Unknown to the five reporters or the Fretilin troops in the village, Indonesian troops were gathered in the nearby town of Batugade. At 6.45am they attacked.

Witnesses claim the journalists ran from Chinaman's calling out: "Don't shoot we are Australians."

The Indonesians gunned them down. Another Australian ran out the back of the house but the Indonesians shot him and left his body lying in a yard with pigs.

The troops stripped the bodies of their watches, passports and valuables before dressing them to look like rebel soldiers and torching them.

Jose Martins, since deceased, arrived in Balibo by helicopter at 10am.

He saw the buildings damaged by rocket and gunfire.

In testimony, he told the UN police he could tell the Indonesians had killed the Australians and not Timorese because they had not been beheaded as Timorese customarily do to kill a person's spirit.

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