Subject: Horrific death of Scottish reporter revealed

The Herald (Scotland)

Horrific death of Scottish reporter revealed

<mailto:alison.campsie@theherald.co.uk>ALISON CAMPSIE

July 25 2009

Five British journalists, including a Scot, were tortured and shot by the Indonesia military almost 35 years ago, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta has claimed.

Mr Ramos-Horta's assertion backs up the findings of an inquest two years ago that ruled the reporters were killed by Indonesian special forces in East Timor in 1975 and that those responsible should face war crime charges.

The latest development will bring more hope to the families of the dead men, including Malcolm Rennie, originally from Barrhead in Renfrewshire, who have fought for the truth surrounding the loss of their loved ones after doubt was cast over the official version of events, which claimed they died in a rebel crossfire. advertisement

The controversy has now been turned into a film called Balibo, the name of the border town where the men died. Mr Ramos-Horta yesterday made the fresh claims at the film's launch in Melbourne.

He said the film was largely accurate, but that its makers were unable to convey the full horror of the killings because it would be too shocking for cinema audiences.

Mr Ramos-Horta, a rebel commander at the time, said the journalists were not just killed by the Indonesian military, but "brutally tortured".

Mr Rennie was just 29 when he headed to East Timor, the former Portugese colony, with fellow Briton Brian Peters, 26, from Bristol, Australians Greg Shackleton, 29 and Tony Stewart, 21, and New Zealander Greg Cunningham, 27. All men worked for rival TV stations in Australia, Channel 7 and Channel 9.

Critics have claimed that the UK was reluctant to pry too far into the deaths because of important arms sales to Indonesia.

For decades, successive British Governments have tried to keep clear of the case, which has been described as a timebomb in British-Indonesian relations. UK authorities argued the deaths were a matter for Australia to investigate.

Campaigners believe they had evidence that Indonesian special forces had effectively mounted an invasion of the territory shortly before the deaths, contradicting official reports that fighting was among rival factions of Timorese.

The filmakers hope that Balibo will spur the Australian government to launch a war crimes tribunal.

In 2007, the New South Wales coroner, Dorelle Pinch, said the journalists were killed on the orders of Yunus Yosfiah, who was then an Indonesian military captain and later a government minister. He has denied the claim.

There was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Mr Yosfiah's orders to kill the journalists came from the then-head of Indonesian Special Forces, Major General Benny Murdani, Ms Pinch said.

Mr Yosfiah and other Indonesian officials refused to testify at the inquest, which was the first open judicial inquiry into the deaths. The Indonesian government has regarded the matter as closed for some years.

The Australian government has not responded to the coroner's findings.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night: "In 2008, one of our ministers met with the family and obviously we continue to talk to the Australian authorities about the cases.

"We do not hold any independent evidence on how the five journalists were killed and we have released all papers relevant to their deaths."

Indonesian troops officially invaded East Timor shortly after Portugal withdrew in 1975, ending 450 years as its colonial ruler.

Five British journalists, including a Scot, were tortured and shot by the Indonesia military almost 35 years ago, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta has claimed.

Mr Ramos-Horta's assertion backs up the findings of an inquest two years ago that ruled the reporters were killed by Indonesian special forces in East Timor in 1975 and that those responsible should face war crime charges.

The latest development will bring more hope to the families of the dead men, including Malcolm Rennie, originally from Barrhead in Renfrewshire, who have fought for the truth surrounding the loss of their loved ones after doubt was cast over the official version of events, which claimed they died in a rebel crossfire. advertisement

The controversy has now been turned into a film called Balibo, the name of the border town where the men died. Mr Ramos-Horta yesterday made the fresh claims at the film's launch in Melbourne.

He said the film was largely accurate, but that its makers were unable to convey the full horror of the killings because it would be too shocking for cinema audiences.

Mr Ramos-Horta, a rebel commander at the time, said the journalists were not just killed by the Indonesian military, but "brutally tortured".

Mr Rennie was just 29 when he headed to East Timor, the former Portugese colony, with fellow Briton Brian Peters, 26, from Bristol, Australians Greg Shackleton, 29 and Tony Stewart, 21, and New Zealander Greg Cunningham, 27. All men worked for rival TV stations in Australia, Channel 7 and Channel 9.

Critics have claimed that the UK was reluctant to pry too far into the deaths because of important arms sales to Indonesia.

For decades, successive British Governments have tried to keep clear of the case, which has been described as a timebomb in British-Indonesian relations. UK authorities argued the deaths were a matter for Australia to investigate.

Campaigners believe they had evidence that Indonesian special forces had effectively mounted an invasion of the territory shortly before the deaths, contradicting official reports that fighting was among rival factions of Timorese.

The filmakers hope that Balibo will spur the Australian government to launch a war crimes tribunal.

In 2007, the New South Wales coroner, Dorelle Pinch, said the journalists were killed on the orders of Yunus Yosfiah, who was then an Indonesian military captain and later a government minister. He has denied the claim.

There was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Mr Yosfiah's orders to kill the journalists came from the then-head of Indonesian Special Forces, Major General Benny Murdani, Ms Pinch said.

Mr Yosfiah and other Indonesian officials refused to testify at the inquest, which was the first open judicial inquiry into the deaths. The Indonesian government has regarded the matter as closed for some years.

The Australian government has not responded to the coroner's findings.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night: "In 2008, one of our ministers met with the family and obviously we continue to talk to the Australian authorities about the cases.

"We do not hold any independent evidence on how the five journalists were killed and we have released all papers relevant to their deaths."

Indonesian troops officially invaded East Timor shortly after Portugal withdrew in 1975, ending 450 years as its colonial ruler.

Five British journalists, including a Scot, were tortured and shot by the Indonesia military almost 35 years ago, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta has claimed.

Mr Ramos-Horta's assertion backs up the findings of an inquest two years ago that ruled the reporters were killed by Indonesian special forces in East Timor in 1975 and that those responsible should face war crime charges.

The latest development will bring more hope to the families of the dead men, including Malcolm Rennie, originally from Barrhead in Renfrewshire, who have fought for the truth surrounding the loss of their loved ones after doubt was cast over the official version of events, which claimed they died in a rebel crossfire. advertisement

The controversy has now been turned into a film called Balibo, the name of the border town where the men died. Mr Ramos-Horta yesterday made the fresh claims at the film's launch in Melbourne.

He said the film was largely accurate, but that its makers were unable to convey the full horror of the killings because it would be too shocking for cinema audiences.

Mr Ramos-Horta, a rebel commander at the time, said the journalists were not just killed by the Indonesian military, but "brutally tortured".

Mr Rennie was just 29 when he headed to East Timor, the former Portugese colony, with fellow Briton Brian Peters, 26, from Bristol, Australians Greg Shackleton, 29 and Tony Stewart, 21, and New Zealander Greg Cunningham, 27. All men worked for rival TV stations in Australia, Channel 7 and Channel 9.

Critics have claimed that the UK was reluctant to pry too far into the deaths because of important arms sales to Indonesia.

For decades, successive British Governments have tried to keep clear of the case, which has been described as a timebomb in British-Indonesian relations. UK authorities argued the deaths were a matter for Australia to investigate.

Campaigners believe they had evidence that Indonesian special forces had effectively mounted an invasion of the territory shortly before the deaths, contradicting official reports that fighting was among rival factions of Timorese.

The filmakers hope that Balibo will spur the Australian government to launch a war crimes tribunal.

In 2007, the New South Wales coroner, Dorelle Pinch, said the journalists were killed on the orders of Yunus Yosfiah, who was then an Indonesian military captain and later a government minister. He has denied the claim.

There was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Mr Yosfiah's orders to kill the journalists came from the then-head of Indonesian Special Forces, Major General Benny Murdani, Ms Pinch said.

Mr Yosfiah and other Indonesian officials refused to testify at the inquest, which was the first open judicial inquiry into the deaths. The Indonesian government has regarded the matter as closed for some years.

The Australian government has not responded to the coroner's findings.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night: "In 2008, one of our ministers met with the family and obviously we continue to talk to the Australian authorities about the cases.

"We do not hold any independent evidence on how the five journalists were killed and we have released all papers relevant to their deaths."

Indonesian troops officially invaded East Timor shortly after Portugal withdrew in 1975, ending 450 years as its colonial ruler.

theherald.co.uk/news/news/ 


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