Subject: Report supports claims Indonesian troops murdered five journalists in 1975

Associated Press Worldstream

January 24, 2006 Tuesday 10:02 AM GMT

Report supports claims Indonesian troops murdered five journalists in 1975

By GUIDO GUILLIART, Associated Press Writer

DILI East Timor

An internationally funded report supports claims that Indonesian soldiers intentionally killed five foreign journalists who were covering Jakarta's 1975 invasion of East Timor.

The Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, compiled over a two-year period, was presented to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week.

It has yet to be made public, but portions of the 2,500-page document detailing atrocities carried out during Indonesia's 24-year rule of East Timor were seen by The Associated Press.

The Indonesian government claims 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 commissioners who compiled the new report said their own witness interviews indicated the journalists were probably intentionally killed by Indonesian soldiers.

They called for "further investigation of the elusive truth of this matter."

The commission said that while some witness accounts varied it believed one of the journalists was shot at around 6 a.m. as he tried to get back to a house sheltering his colleagues.

Then the Indonesian soldiers "deliberately fired" on the other journalists, who were standing in the doorway shouting "Australia, Australia" for at least two minutes with their hands in the air.

"Some of the journalists might have fallen at the doorway," the commissioners wrote. "But at least one journalist escaped into the house and was killed at the rear of the house."

The commissioners said testimonies indicated the troops then "dressed up the dead journalists bodies, some or all, in uniforms and then photographed them with machine guns."

They acknowledged that they were not in a position to reach definitive conclusions on what happened in Balibo, but stressed that their findings supported the case for further investigation.

The Indonesian invasion in 1975 marked the beginning of the country's brutal, 24-year occupation of East Timor in which more than 180,000 people were killed.

The violence peaked in 1999 when the Indonesian military and its proxy militias launched a wave of attacks on supporters of the country's independence killing 1,500 and laying waste to the half-island.

U.N. troops finally restored order and East Timor gained full independence in May 2001 after a short period of transitional rule.

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