Subject: JP: Balibo Arrest Warrant To Be Ignored

Also Former cabinet minister wanted for Balibo deaths

The Jakarta Post Friday, March 2, 2007

Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Officer

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian government will not respond to an arrest warrant issued Thursday by an Australian court for former military commander Lt. Gen. (ret.) Yunus Yosfiah, saying it considers the case long since closed.

"It is already a closed case. It is an old issue and we have finished with it," Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Suryo Legowo told The Jakarta Post.

The New South Wales state coroner issued the warrant for Yunus after he failed to appear at an inquest into the death of British-born journalist Brian Peters, one of five Australia-based reporters killed during an attack by Indonesian troops on the town of Balibo, East Timor, on Oct. 16, 1975.

Deputy State Coroner Dorelle Pinch issued the warrant after Yunus failed to respond to a series of letters requesting he testify before the inquiry, but she conceded the order has no power outside Australia.

"It's an indication of how seriously I regard the necessity of having him here," Pinch was quoted as telling the court by AP. But "it is probable that he will not appear to be examined unless compelled to do so"

Yunus, a lawmaker from the United Development Party (PPP), questioned the Australian court's authority to issue the warrant.

"They can't do that. Is there any law for this? You can ask legal experts about this," he was quoted as saying by detikcom.

Yunus said he did not have to explain why he refused to attend the inquest because he had already explained everything to then foreign minister Alwi Shihab and the House of Representatives.

Kristiarto also underlined that the warrant was not enforceable inside Indonesian territory because the Australian court has no jurisdiction here.

"We simply will not do anything as Indonesian territory is outside of any Australian court's jurisdiction," he said.

Indonesia maintains the reporters were killed accidentally in a cross fire, but several people claiming to be eyewitnesses testified before Sydney's Glebe Coroner's Court this month that Yunus ordered his troops to open fire on the unarmed journalists and burn their bodies.

Yunus earlier dismissed these claims as politically motivated lies.

AP reported that the inquiry was called at the request of Peters's family. In Australia, a state coroner can investigate any resident's death not due to natural causes, especially if the circumstances are deemed suspicious, regardless of where the death took place.

But the coroner's court has no power to extradite Yunus from Indonesia, or to compel him to testify unless he comes to Australia of his own will.

The five journalists were killed as Indonesian special forces attacked a local militia that had claimed sovereignty after Portugal abandoned its former colony. The attack was a prelude to an Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December of that year.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled the tiny half-island territory until 1999, when a UN-organized referendum resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence. Withdrawing Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and killed more than 1,000 people.

There have been repeated investigations into the journalists' deaths since 1975, but successive Australian governments have said they accept that the reporters were not intentionally killed.

Last year, an independent report presented to the United Nations found that the five journalists were probably killed deliberately by the Indonesian soldiers. The 2,500-page document, which was based on eyewitness accounts of the shooting, called for "further investigation of the elusive truth of this matter".


Last Updated 2/03/2007 4:10:12 PM

INDONESIA: Former cabinet minister wanted for Balibo deaths

A former Indonesian cabinet minister implicated in the deaths of five Australian and British journalists in East Timor in 1975 is remaining defiant in the face of calls for his arrest.

An Australian coroner has issued an arrest warrant for Mohammed Yunus Yosfiah after hearing evidence that he was seen shooting at the journalists in the town of Balibo 32 years ago.

<> Listen

Presenter/Interviewer: Linda LoPresti Speakers: Former Indonesian cabinet minister Mohammed Yunus Yosfiah

YOSFIAH: I'm very relaxed, first because I do understand what the case is. Secondly, I know and I have explained many times before that I never met those journalists and the .third is how could they ask me to be arrested as an Indonesian. From there, what is the law system?

LOPRESTI: Indeed, there is no requirement for you to come to Australia to give evidence. But this inquest has heard testimony that you were seen shooting at the five journalists in Balibo, in Ocobter, 1975. What is your reaction?

YOSFIAH: I talk many times to some journalists. Please open the file that I have talked many times before to journalists. I don't want to answer many time the same answer to the same question, it come from different sources. I want to suggest to you, can I?


YOSFIAH: I want you to find out some information about what's the problem in East Timor right now.

LOPRESTI: Yes, Mr Yosfiah, what is happening in East Timor now is a separate issue to what happened in East Timor in October, 1975. I would like to ask you about what you know about those events?

YOSFIAH: It seems to me those people who always talking that they are eyewitness. Actually they have political interest to get protecting, political protection about their case.

LOPRESTI: Mr Yosfiah, that's another story that we're also following.

YOSFIAH: Yes, I know, but may be there some background. Because why, those people are giving information about me. Now they live in Portugal. They live in some in Australia.

LOPRESTI: Well, the inquest has heard testimony from someone that said that you were shooting at the journalists in 1975. I'm sure you're aware of that.

YOSFIAH: I think for that answer, to answer that, please open the file that I answer many times before.

LOPRESTI: Mr Yosfiah though, are you considering giving evidence to this inquiry in Australia?

YOSFIAH: Well, I have said it many times. Please open the file, the whole information that I have released, please.

LOPRESTI: But, because this warrant of arrest has been issued today. I'm asking you today whether you're considering coming to Australia to give evidence?


LOPRESTI: Why is that?

YOSFIAH: Why? Because I already give many information according to the Balibo five.

LOPRESTI: But, why not tell you're side of the story? Why not explain what happened from your point of view?

YOSFIAH: I give the information many times about that, even to the Australian ambassador in 1999.

LOPRESTI: Mr Yosfiah, why do you think your name continues to be mentioned in regard to these killings in Balibo?

YOSFIAH: You find the answer for that.

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