Subject: 2 updates: Indonesian Troops Killed Aussie Reporters In 1975: Lawyer [+Sutiyoso]

also: update: Envoy: Jakarta Gov Left Australia Because Offended By Police

Lawyer: Indonesian Troops Killed Australian Reporters In 1975

SYDNEY, May 30 (AP)--Evidence at the first judicial-style inquiry into the deaths of five Australia-based journalists covering the invasion of East Timor in 1975 proved they were deliberately shot by Indonesian forces and not killed in crossfire, a lawyer said Wednesday.

The submission, by the senior lawyer assisting a coroner's inquest into the killings, directly contradicts the Australian and Indonesian governments' long-standing claims that the journalists died accidentally during fighting between invading Indonesian forces and East Timorese defenders in the town of Balibo.

"The journalists were not killed by being caught in crossfire ... but rather were deliberately killed by the Indonesian troops who had arrived at the Balibo town square," said Mark Tedeschi, making his final submission to the inquiry.

New South Wales state Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch is investigating the death of one of the journalists, Brian Peters, in Balibo on Oct. 16, 1975, and has heard weeks of detailed testimony from witnesses, and documentary evidence on the final days of all of the journalists.

While Tedeschi was appointed to help with her inquiry, Pinch is not bound to support his submissions. Lawyers representing other parties to the case will also make submissions, then Pinch will hand down her ruling.

She will make a finding on the cause of Peters' death, but does not have powers to order that charges be laid or that further official action be taken if she decides foul play was involved.

The case of the so-called "Balibo five" has been controversial for decades.

It is highly sensitive in Australia because of reports that the government was told beforehand about Jakarta's plans to invade East Timor, and tacitly endorsed them because it preferred the half-island territory to be ruled by Indonesia rather than be independent.

Two Australian government-appointed investigations previously concluded the journalists were killed in crossfire, but those reports have failed to quell claims by the men's families and others that they were executed by Indonesian special forces to cover up news of the attack.

Pinch's inquest is the first investigation into the deaths to be conducted in an open court, with lawyers interviewing and cross-examining witnesses.

Tedeschi said evidence showed that Yunus Yosfiah, who was then an Indonesia military captain and later a government minister, was integral in the shootings of the journalists, and that he was probably acting on orders from higher up.

"At least three of the journalists were shot by Indonesian troops after an order was given by Captain Yunus Yosfiah ... who also joined in the shooting of those three," Tedeschi said.

"It is highly unlikely that a mere captain would have made the extraordinary decision to kill five Australian journalists without the sanction of his superior officers," he said.

Yosfiah has dismissed claims he ordered the journalists' deaths as lies.

In March, Pinch issued an arrest warrant for Yosfiah to try to force him to appear at the inquiry, though she conceded she had no power to enforce the warrant.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Wednesday said the government would consider Pinch's findings when they are made.

"We will let the coroner's inquiry take its course and when it is concluded, if there are recommendations, if they have any bearing on foreign policy, then we'll have a look at them," Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

He denied an Indonesian news report that Australian officials had told their Indonesian counterparts that the inquest was nothing to worry about. "I wouldn't put it in those terms," Downer said.

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Envoy: Jakarta Gov Left Australia Because Offended By Police

CANBERRA, May 30 (AP)--Jakarta's governor cut short an Australian visit after police allegedly entered his Sydney hotel room to force him to testify at a coroner's inquest, a diplomat said Wednesday. The state's deputy coroner denied police let themselves into the room.

Gov. Sutiyoso flew home to Indonesia Tuesday night rather than continue with his planned visit to the national capital, Canberra, Wednesday, Indonesian Embassy First Secretary Dino Kusnadi said.

He said New South Wales state police let themselves into Sutiyoso's hotel room that afternoon while he was taking a nap, intending to serve a subpoena.

The subpoena required Sutiyoso, who like many Indonesians, uses only one name, to testify Wednesday at an inquest into the deaths of five Australia-based journalists covering the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, Kusnadi said.

But they did not serve the document, he said.

"He was very offended by the incident yesterday afternoon," Kusnadi said.

"He was quite shocked to find police officers had entered his room with a master key," he said.

"No explanation was given as to why they entered in that way let alone an apology," he added. "That destroyed his mood for continuing his visit."

Sutiyoso, 62, is a retired lieutenant-general in the Indonesian army who was reportedly part of the special forces unit that attacked the East Timorese town of Balibo where the five news men died on Oct. 16, 1975.

Kusnadi said Sutiyoso's decision to return to Indonesia should not be interpreted as him having something to hide from the coroner.

"If circumstances were different, if he had been informed in a manner that was acceptable, it would have been different," Kusnadi said of the governor's decision not to testify.

"That wasn't even in his agenda; his agenda was already set," Kusnadi said of the coroner's inquest.

State police issued a statement confirming that a police officer attached to the coroner's investigation unit spoke to an Indonesian official Tuesday at the direction of Deputy State Coroner Dorelle Pinch.

Pinch told the inquest Wednesday they had seized a "small window of opportunity" when she issued a personal invitation to Sutiyoso to give evidence.

She said she learned Tuesday that the potentially important witness was visiting Sydney.

Pinch said that according to evidence, Sutiyoso had allegedly been part of "Team Susi," one of the Indonesian military units that advanced on Balibo the day the journalists were killed.

"There seemed to be a very small window of opportunity for me to secure his attendance," Pinch said.

"On the basis of initial advice that I received, I directed that a subpoena be served on him," she added.

Pinch said she subsequently received "more considered legal advice that cast doubt on whether I could indeed compel his attendance."

The police officer assisting the inquest, Detective Sergeant Steve Thomas, then went to Sutiyoso's hotel to convey the coroner's invitation to appear.

"Mr. Sutiyoso declined to attend the inquest, citing previous engagements and commitments," Pinch told the court.

Sutiyoso said his commitments would continue for the duration of his stay in Australia and therefore he would not attend the inquest, she said.

"There now appears to be some suggestion that Detective Sergeant Thomas gained unauthorized entry to Mr. Sutiyoso's hotel room," Pinch said.

"I spoke to Detective Sergeant Thomas and he assures me that that is not so," she added.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman was not immediately able to comment. out.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service


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