Subject: SMH: Four ready to describe killing of Australians at Balibo
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:43:21 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald 21/06/99


Four ready to describe killing of Australians

There are now four witnesses to the deaths at Balibo, living outside East Timor, who are willing to give evidence to a judicial inquiry, despite the risk of prosecution as accomplices.

WITNESS 1: Interviewed by this writer in April, 1979, he said Fretilin resistance in Balibo was brief. He said he saw Indonesian soldiers from a unit known as Group Susi, led by a Major Andreas (an alias for Yunus Yosfiah), kill four journalists in a Chinese-owned house at Balibo square at dawn on October 16, 1975.

Four were killed at the front of the house, one felled with a knife as he came out of a doorway to surrender, the others shot through the windows. He said he saw a fifth wounded European die after running out the back of the house. All the bodies were burnt in the house soon after the attack. He said a Captain Ali Mussa was also involved.

Witness 1 lives in Australia. He gave contradictory accounts to Sherman, who identifies him as P5, denying he was in Balibo at the time of the killings.

WITNESS 2: Olandino Maia Guterres was first interviewed by this writer in Dili in June last year and left East Timor to be interviewed by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program. He and Witness 1 were in a unit commanded by Lieutenant Selamat Kirbiantoro, and he said they both saw Susi commandos fire through the windows of the same house, killing four of the newsmen. He said he saw a fifth killed behind the house by a soldier called Kris.

The second Sherman inquiry resulted from his evidence, but Guterres alleges the Sherman text is not a faithful account of what he said. He lives in Portugal.

WITNESS 3: was first interviewed by Sherman, identified as C5, early this year. He said he saw two of the journalists come out of a different house, on which the word "Australia" had been painted, with their hands up as commandos shot them. He said he later saw three other bodies burning in the "Chinese" house afterthey had been dressed in uniforms and photographed. He lives in Australia.

WITNESS 4: He was interviewed by the Herald last week. One of the few Timorese commanders in Balibo, he says he saw Yunus, Mussa, Kirbiantoro and men from the Susi unit kill four of the journalists in a hail of rifle fire outside the "Chinese" house as they emerged with hands raised pleading for their lives.

The newsmen were unarmed and trying to surrender, he said. He later attended a briefing by Yunus, he said, who ordered those present to treat the journalists' deaths as secret and to lie about them.

He was interviewed by an Australian Government inquiry in 1976 and now says he lied on key points. Fearing for his family's life, he has requested asylum in Australia.- Jill Jolliffe


Sydney Morning Herald 21/06/99


Information man knows nothing

By LINDSAY MURDOCH Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

Mr Yunus Yosfiah leans forward in his chair, relaxed and smiling. One of the key reformers in the post-Soeharto Government, the Information Minister and hard military man is looking forward to his retirement, when he might go to manage his son, a golf professional in the United States.

When the inevitable questions come about the 1975 attack at Balibo in East Timor, when five Australian-based journalists were killed, He does not flinch. He even offers the story "that I asked the journalists to stand against the wall and I shot them ... that is another story. Which will you follow?" During the interview with the Herald last month, Mr Yunus admitted for the first time that he led the attack in which the journalists were killed. He said that he stayed in the border town of Balibo "for maybe 10 days or two weeks".

But he rejected key findings by the Australian Government-commissioned investigator, Mr Tom Sherman, QC, that he was the man "most likely" to have led the soldiers who killed the newsmen, dressed them in military uniforms for propaganda purposes, then burnt their bodies.

When it is suggested that as the officer in charge he must have seen the bodies or heard the news that five foreigners had been killed, Mr Yunus said: "I told you I have never seen the bodies ... I've never seen [the journalists] alive or dead. Not even one."

Mr Yunus denied a claim made last October by a former East Timor partisan, Mr Olandino Guterres, that the attackers knew in advance there were foreign journalists in Balibo. "I have never had any brief about that," he said. Mr Guterres claimed to have been attached to the attacking force.

Mr Sherman accepted that while some Indonesian officers higher up the chain of command "knew of the possible presence of journalists in Balibo prior to the attack", there was no evidence that the attacking troops had been told about the journalists.

Mr Yunus also denied that East Timor partisans associated with the Timorese Democratic Union had accompanied Indonesian troops during the attack on Balibo. The only partisans there that day, he said, were members of Apodeti, a tiny pro-Indonesian party. Mr Yunus, now 54, did a total of six tours of duty in East Timor and married an East Timorese. At the time of the 1975 invasion of the former Portuguese territory he was a special forces captain.

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