Subject: Yosfiah 'accused' over Balibo killings
Yosfiah 'accused' over Balibo killings,
Killed in cold blood - Inquest hears how Indonesians shot Balibo 5
Tuesday, February 6, 2007. 1:18pm (AEDT)
Former minister first to fire, Balibo inquest told
An eyewitness to the shooting of the Balibo Five in East Timor in 1975 has told a Sydney court that a man who later became an Indonesian government minister was the first to shoot at the journalists.
The Glebe Coroners Court in Sydney is holding an inquest into the death of Brian Peters, who was one of the five journalists working for Australian networks who were killed in East Timor in 1975.
The inquest is continuing to hear evidence from an East Timorese eyewitness who has been given the code name Glebe 2.
He has told the court how he saw two white men with their hands above their heads. There was a lot of shouting and shooting.
In court today, he identified Yunus Yosfiah from the Indonesian military as the man who first started shooting at the journalists.
The inquest has been told that in 1998 Mr Yosfiah was appointed as the minister for information in the Indonesian government.
The inquest continues.
Agence France Presse -- English
February 6, 2007 Tuesday 9:26 AM GMT
Indonesian minister "shot at" foreign reporters while soldier
SYDNEY, Feb 6 2007
An Indonesian military commander who later became a government minister opened fire on a group of Australian-based journalists killed in East Timor in 1975, an inquest heard Tuesday.
The inquest at Sydney's Glebe Coroners Court is examining the death of Brian Peters, one of five journalists killed by Indonesian troops in the Timorese border town of Balibo in October 1975.
Jakarta maintains the so-called "Balibo Five" were killed in crossfire during a skirmish ahead of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor but their families insist they were murdered and there was a cover-up.
The inquest, set up after a request from Peters' sister, heard evidence from an East Timorese witness who said he saw the men being shot.
The witness, known by the codename "Glebe 2," said he had trained with the Indonesian military and was with special forces troops when they went into Balibo in October 16, 1975.
He identified captain Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah as the first soldier to open fire on the five journalists before his colleagues joined in.
Yosfiah, who rose to hold the post of Indonesia's information minister in the late 1990s and is now a retired general, has admitted leading the attack on Balibo but denied involvement in the deaths of the journalists.
The witness told the inquest there had been no shooting from the house where the journalists were staying before the attack.
He said the journalists' bodies were set on fire and military officials warned him not to tell anyone about the shooting, describing it as "top secret."
The witness said he had lied to Australian investigators about the incident, but finally told the truth to an Australian journalist in 1999.
"Because in East Timor I saw a lot of injustice and massacres and as an East Timorese I couldn't support that anymore," Glebe 2 said.
Yosfiah denied the allegations and said that as captain he could not have been at the forefront of the attack.
"This is not the first time -- and I do not think it will be the last time either -- that they are attacking me. My answer remains unchanged," Yosfiah told AFP in Jakarta, adding that he had "never seen those journalists."
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hailed the inquest as a chance to learn what happened in the lead up to Indonesia's invasion of the former Portuguese colony a month after the killings occurred.
"This new investigation 30 years after the events offers an historic opportunity to shed light on the death of five reporters who were key witnesses of the Indonesian army's invasion of East Timor," RSF said in a statement issued in Jakarta.
"The occupation and subsequent liberation of this former Portuguese colony were marked by serious human rights violations, including the deaths of journalists."
RSF called on the Indonesian army to provide information on those suspected of being responsible for the deaths.
Peters and fellow Briton Malcolm Rennie were working for Australia's Channel Nine in East Timor when they were killed, while Australians Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart and New Zealander Gary Cunningham were working for Channel Seven.
RSF said the inquest would also examine whether Australian authorities and former Labour prime minister Gough Whitlam were aware of an order to kill the journalists after Indonesian army communications were intercepted.
"All that we learn about Brian will help us to shed light on the other four .... The families have been calling for a special inquest into this case for the past four years. The arrival of a new coroner helped to get things going," Shackleton's widow Shirley said in the RSF statement.
Indonesia in 1976 declared the country its youngest province, but in the face of persistent armed resistance.
East Timor achieved full independence only in 2002, four years after Indonesia relinquished control of the territory following a UN-sponsored self-determination ballot.
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
February 6, 2007 Tuesday
Killed in cold blood - Inquest hears how Indonesians shot Balibo 5
AT dawn on October 16, 1975, four young Australian-based journalists walked out of a house in Balibo, East Timor, with their arms above their heads.
Moments later they were shot in cold blood by Indonesian special forces, an inquest has heard.
For the first time since the alleged execution of the five TV newsmen at the start of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, an open court is taking sworn evidence from witnesses.
According to the evidence, the fifth Balibo victim locked himself in a bathroom but was stabbed in the back with a special forces knife when he emerged.
Glebe Coroners Court yesterday heard Australian officials knew about Indonesia's invasion plans days in advance -- but did nothing to warn the five men.
In fact, keeping Indonesian dictator Suharto on side was a much higher priority for the Whitlam government of the time.
In a cable on October 15, 1975 -- the day before the deaths -- then Australian ambassador Richard Woolcott told Canberra that Indonesia was so confident of Australia's support that it ''keeps us informed of its secret plans''.
Evidence will also be presented that two men working on the Hope Royal Commission in 1977 saw a message intercepted by the top-secret electronic spy agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, which also kept the government fully informed.
According to counsel assisting the inquest, Mark Tedeschi QC, it contained words to the effect: ''As directed or in accordance with your instructions, five journalists have been located and shot.''
The first day of the inquest into the death of Sydney-based British Channel 9 cameraman Brian Peters was yesterday told by a witness known as Glebe 2, who cannot be identified, that he saw the men with their arms raised before shots were fired.
''At this point [Indonesian Army Captain Yunus] Yosfiah and his team shot the journalists who were unarmed with their hands in the air,'' a police witness statement said.
''I saw them shoot. A lot of them were firing. They fired towards the white people.''
Glebe 2 was a member of the pro-Indonesian Apodeti Partisan force that fought at Balibo.
Peters' Melbourne-based Nine colleague Malcolm Rennie and Seven's Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart also died at Balibo.
The Indonesian Government has been asked to assist with witnesses to the inquiry, but has so far refused to respond.
The inquest, before NSW Deputy State Coroner Dorelle Pinch, continues.
The Australian Prime Minister gave tacit approval for the invasion. Gave Suharto the ''green light''
''Owed Whitlam a great debt for the understanding he had shown of Indonesia's position [on East Timor]''
'Suharto will assume the Australian Government will make every effort to give Indonesia what support and understanding it can' -- Oct 15, 1975
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