Subject: Secret post recorded talk of Balibo journo 'eliminations'

Daily Telegraph

Secret post recorded talk of journo 'eliminations'

By Janet Fyfe-Yeomans

January 25, 2007 01:00am Article from: The Daily Telegraph

INDONESIAN troops were recorded by a previously unknown top secret Australian listening station discussing the execution of five young Australian journalists.

The RAAF No.3 Telecommunications Unit was so highly classified that little reference to its existence was made even in formal air force publications.

Police and lawyers investigating the deaths of the five journalists in Balibo in 1975 have focused on whether radio traffic about their deaths was picked up by the Defence Signals Directorate at Shoal Bay, near Darwin.

But for the first time, a former signals officer at the now-disbanded 3TU, which was close to RAAF Pearce, outside Perth, has revealed they also heard the Indonesian military discussions.

The fresh evidence comes as NSW deputy coroner Dorelle Pinch finalises procedural matters before the inquest into the death of one of the journalists, Brian Peters, begins on February 5.

The signals officer, who has asked that his identity remain secret, said his training officer, Flight Sergeant Alan Oldacres-Dear, told trainees he heard the recording of Indonesian soldiers in East Timor discussing the "elimination" of the journalists, who were covering the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

The retired signals officer said the truth had "eaten him away" for 30 years.

"I want the families of the men to know that the people who knew about this then ... that this eats into you, this vow of silence," he said.

"The O-D used the words 'to be eliminated'."

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, all died in Balibo on October 16, 1975.

Flt Sgt Oldacres-Dear, known as O-D by his men, died in 1987 and his son, Neil, confirmed his father worked at the remote receiving station but said he never discussed his job.

However, The Daily Telegraph has confirmed that 3TU, the only RAAF unit to have been continuously operational 24 hours a day for 45 years, did monitor radio traffic from Australia's northern neighbours in conjunction with the DSD.

"It is all still secretive. We weren't allowed to discuss ourselves what we did and who we listened to," former 3TU Association president Barry Mayne said.

The only written history of the unit suggests little evidence remains to help investigators working with the inquest.

It states that many official records, particularly between 1960 and 1978, are missing.,23599,21111142-2,00.html 

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