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TIMOR: UN opens inquiry into 1975 Baliboj-killings

EAST TIMOR: UN opens inquiry into 1975 Baliboj-killings

* Pacific Media Watch Online: http://www.pmw.c2o.org


UN OPENS INQUIRY INTO 1975 MURDER OF JOURNALISTS IN TIMOR

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The U.N. has opened an investigation into the deaths of five foreign newsmen killed during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975, a U.N. official said Friday.

On October 16, 1975, reporter Malcolm Rennie, 28, and cameraman Brian Peters, 29, both British citizens; reporter Greg Shackleton, 27, and soundman Tony Stewart, 21, both of Australia; and New Zealand cameraman Gary Cunningham, 27, were murdered in the town of Balibo.

Australian investigators and the Indonesian government said the newsmen were caught in a firefight between Indonesian troops and East Timorese defenders. But former resistance fighters testified that the journalists were executed in cold blood by the Indonesian invaders.

The Indonesian forces were commanded by Maj. Gen. Leonardus Benny Moerdani, one of ex-dictator's closest henchmen, who later served as defense minister.

East Timor's U.N. police spokesman Antero Lopes said officials have uncovered new information about the killings that has prompted a fresh investigation.

He said investigators, from Canada, Nepal, Portugal, Australia and Nigeria, have been assigned to look into the case.

Indonesia's military invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975. Some 200,000 people, mostly civilians, died as a result of famine and military repression before an Aug. 30, 1999 referendum.

Four-fifths of East Timorese voted for independence in the U.N.-sponsored vote. The result infuriated pro-Indonesian militias, which reacted by murdering hundreds of people and laying waste to much of the territory.

+++niuswire

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