Subject: Eye witness says Balibo five pleaded for lives

Eye witness says Balibo five pleaded for lives


November 01, 2009 09:30pm \ A WITNESS has come forward 34 years after the Balibo Five were killed, saying he saw Indonesian soldiers murder the newsmen as they pleaded for their lives.

A man named only as Alberto said he saw two men shoot three of the five journalists, all of whom died in the East Timorese border town of Balibo in 1975.

"I saw it, absolutely, with my own eyes,'' Alberto told the Nine Network.

"He said 'journalist, I'm a journalist', but the Indonesians didn't want to know about him being a journalist and fired off shots.

"The one standing fell to the ground and then they fired at the other two who were seated on the ground.''

The revelation comes after the Australian Federal Police in September launched a war crimes investigation into the deaths of Australians Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart, Britons Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie and New Zealander Gary Cunningham.

Successive Australian and Indonesian governments had claimed the men were accidentally killed in crossfire but a 2007 NSW coronial inquiry found a group of soldiers led by Indonesian Special Forces captain Yusuf Yosfiah ordered the deaths. <>  add to iGoogle <

It is believed three of the men were shot. Another - probably cameraman Brian Peters - was attacked in the street and the fifth man was stabbed by Indonesian Special Forces commander Christoforus da Silva, the coronial inquiry was told.

Asked if he knew the names of the men he saw pull the trigger, Alberto told the 60 Minutes program: "There were two people who killed them, one whose name I know was called Chris, the other name I have forgotten. It was 34 years ago.''

Teuku Faizasyah, of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, maintained Indonesia's line that the men were killed accidentally.

"It is the war, conditions of the war,'' he said.

"During the war it's confusing. Our understanding of the issue is that they were killed during crossfire.

"War is war, to be killed in a crossfire in the line of war, it is a risk, and anyone can happen.''

But Mr Faizasyah ruled out an investigation based on the emergence of the fresh eyewitness account.

"You may conduct your inquiries on your side,'' he said.

"For Indonesia, it's a case closed.''

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