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Widow Calls For Full Inquiry Into Newsmen Deaths

By Gil Breitkreutz

BRISBANE, Oct 16 AAP - The widow of one of five Australian journalists killed in East Timor in 1975 today renewed calls for an inquiry into their deaths, saying she had statements from new witnesses.

Shirley Shackelton delivered a so-called summons to the federal government and said: "We are calling for a full and open inquiry."

The young television newsmen from Sydney and Melbourne were killed when Indonesian soldiers descended on the village of Balibo in October 1975.

Greg Shackelton, Tony Stewart, Malcolm Rennie, Brian Peters and Gary Cunningham were shot and stabbed to death and ever since their relatives have been fighting to uncover the real story of what happened.

Mrs Shackleton said there were new witnesses who had given statements to civilian police attached to the United Nations transitional administration in Dili.

The appeal for an inquiry, delivered today to the Brisbane office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, questions the role of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his knowledge of the build-up of Indonesian forces prior to the invasion of East Timor.

Mrs Shackelton also said the role of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his knowledge of an alleged cover-up of the journalists' murder left questions unanswered.

"We are also questioning the role of successive governments in continuing military ties with Indonesia," she said.

Human Rights campaigner Ciaron O'Reilly said: "The failure of Australian governments to make a vigorous protest and call for a criminal investigation ... has allowed death and destruction to continue with relative impunity on the East Timor border."

Today's summons was addressed to John Howard, Alexander Downer, Paul Keating, Robert Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam and others.

+++niuswire

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