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TIMOR: Newsman's mother wants son left in peace

TIMOR: Newsman's mother wants son left in peace


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

NEWSMAN'S MOTHER WANTS SON LEFT IN PEACE

By Jordan Baker

The mother of Australian newsman Tony Stewart who was shot dead in East Timor in 1975 yesterday broke her 25-year silence to plead for her son to be left in peace.

June Stewart said a new United Nations investigation into the 1975 killing of five newsmen in East Timor would not bring Tony back.

"His resurrection is impossible, so ... what does (a new investigation) really matter at this stage?" she said.

"I can't see much point. He was killed at 21. What can they do about that?"

But Mrs Stewart said she backed calls from the mother of another murdered newsman, Minna Rennie, for an apology for the pain caused by 25 years of of official bungling.

"I would appreciate ... an apology for the cover-up and the shameful conditions at the time, and then let the thing rest," she said.

Mrs Stewart's son Paul, now 39, agrees.

"The thing that gets me is that these journalists died doing their job ... they captured the truth on film, that Indonesia was invading, and I think that should be the end of the story of the journalists."

Tony Stewart was one of five Australian-based television newsmen killed in the town of Balibo on October 16, 1975, during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, sound recordist Tony Stewart and

cameraman Gary Cunningham from New Zealand and Channel Nine crew Malcolm

Rennie and cameraman Brian Peters, both British citizens, had gone to Balibo to check out reports of Indonesian troops in the area.

Australian investigators and the Indonesian government concluded that the newsmen were caught in crossfire between Indonesian troops and East Timorese defenders.

But the United Nations has announced a fresh investigation after new witness evidence backed long-held suspicions that the men were murdered.

Shirley Shackleton, the widow of another of the murdered reporters, Greg, is also demanding a royal commission into the killings. AAP

+++niuswire

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