Subject: Yunus Yosfiah comments on Balibo Five inquest
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News
February 6, 2007
Yunus Yosfiah comments on Balibo Five inquest
Indonesian commander named in Balibo 5 case
MARK COLVIN: The Coroner's Court in Sydney today was told that the former commander of the Indonesian Military, Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah fired the first of the shots that killed five Australian journalists in Balibo, East Timor in 1975.
Mr Yosfiah later became a minister in the Indonesian Government.
Deputy State Coroner Dorelle Pinch was hearing evidence by the eye witness known only as "Glebe Two".
This man was a former commander of the partisan group of East Timorese militia which fought alongside the Indonesian Army when the Portuguese pulled out and Indonesia began its invasion.
Glebe Two identified Yunus Yosfiah as a killer. He said he had personally seen him shoot other people during the war in East Timor.
Yunus Yosfiah is now retired, both from the military and from Government.
From his home in Jakarta, he spoke to our Correspondent Geoff Thompson.
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Of course people they're saying that they are false witnesses, a big liar.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Do you admit to being in Balibo at the time?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I didn't meet that journalist, close or apart. How could they say that I should? I didn't meet them, I never met them.
GEOFF THOMPSON: But you were there?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I never met them.
GEOFF THOMPSON: But you were in Balibo?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I don't know what time did they say? Yes, I'd been in Balibo but I don't know what time they talk about.
GEOFF THOMPSON: And what were you doing in Balibo at the time?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Okay, I don't want to mention now. Your question has been answered several times, several years ago.
GEOFF THOMPSON: So you deny having anything to do with the shooting?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I didn't know, I never asked, I never met them. I don't know.
GEOFF THOMPSON: You deny leading the attack on the Australian reporters?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I told you, I never met them.
GEOFF THOMPSON: But you were there at the time?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: That time, I don't know. No, I'm not there. I wasn't there.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Why are you connected to those events by so many people?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Well you can analyse that, okay?
GEOFF THOMPSON: Can you just tell us the answer. To the people in Australia who are asking this question, what is your answer?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I never met the journalist.
GEOFF THOMPSON: The witnesses who are speaking in Australia...
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Big wrong, big wrong, big wrong and big liar. I tell you the truth.
GEOFF THOMPSON: If you are so confident that this is the truth, why won't you come and appear at the inquiry into the death of Brian Peters?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Because I know what I did and what I didn't do.
GEOFF THOMPSON: But other people want that question answered more thoroughly.
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Yes, but I've answered for that question many times across several years, just open the file.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Why not test it before a formal inquiry?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: The same question, how should I answer the same question many times? You know...
GEOFF THOMPSON: You would have an opportunity to test the evidence and close the question forever.
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Why should I go there? Why should I... I lost my time a lot, just ask the big liar witnesses.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Do you feel any guilt for what happened?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: I don't understand you.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Do you have any bad feeling about what happened?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: No. I didn't feel any guilty for that because I did what I said to you that I never... I never met them and never asked something about them, even close or away, you know?
GEOFF THOMPSON: Do you feel sorry for these reporters? Do you think it was not a good thing that they were killed?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Oh yeah, it's a very, very, very bad, very bad, if those journalists were killed on that day, very bad. I know that. I really know about that, you know?
GEOFF THOMPSON: But it wasn't you?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: Say again?
GEOFF THOMPSON: But it wasn't you?
YUNUS YOSFIAH: It wasn't me. I never asked and I never ordered and I never get what about that.
MARK COLVIN: Yunus Yosfiah, former Military Commander, former Government Minister in Indonesia speaking to our Jakarta Correspondent, Geoff Thompson.
Ex-Indonesian Commander First To Fire On Journalists -Witness
SYDNEY, February 6 (AP)--A former top Indonesian military commander was the first to fire at five foreign journalists covering Jakarta's 1975 invasion of East Timor, and they were not killed in crossfire as claimed by Indonesia, an eyewitness testified Tuesday.
The Indonesian government has claimed the journalists - two Britons, two Australians, and a New Zealander - were caught in a firefight as advancing troops took over the town of Balibo on Oct. 16, 1975.
But the family of one of the Australians, Brian Peters, insists he was murdered, and this week a coroner's inquest was called to examine the circumstances of his death.
Testifying before Sydney's Glebe Coroner's Court on Tuesday, an East Timorese eyewitness, who claims to have trained with the Indonesian military, said the Indonesian commander Yunus Yosfiah was the first to open fire on the five journalists.
The witness, identified only by the pseudonym "Glebe 2," said other Indonesian soldiers then began shooting at the house where the journalists were staying, and that the attack was unprovoked.
He was not identified over fears of retaliation.
Senior military officials warned their junior offices to keep quiet, the man said, adding that he lied to Australian investigators about the incident until his conscience prompted him to speak out.
"In East Timor, I saw a lot of injustice and massacres and as an East Timorese I couldn't support that anymore," the eyewitness said.
Yosfiah was the captain of Indonesian special forces at the time of the shooting, and later became information minister in 1998. He dismissed the witness' remarks as lies.
"It is all lies! I am afraid that person (making those allegations) wants to start a new life in Australia by making up a sensational story," he told The Associated Press.
An independent report presented to the United Nations last year found that the 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."
The 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 in December of that year.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled the tiny half-island territory until 1999, when a U.N.-organized plebiscite resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence. Withdrawing Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and killed at least 1,500 people.
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