World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Indonesians Executed Aussies

Indonesians Executed Aussies

Exclusive by Janet Fife-Yeomans

SYDNEY (Daily Telegraph/Pacific Media Watch) - Five young Australians were executed on the orders of Indonesian military chiefs, according to sensational evidence omitted from official government reports.

The statement by a top lawyer, George Brownbill, contradicts the official line that the five men, all journalists, were caught in a crossfire in Balibo while covering Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975.

The Saturday Daily Telegraph has learned that Mr Brownbill will be called as a key witness at the first inquest into the tragedy to be held at the NSW Coroners Court early next year.

Mr Brownbill said he saw a telexed intelligence report, marked Top Secret, of covertly-intercepted radio traffic between an officer commanding Indonesian forces in East Timor and his bosses in Jakarta. Intercepted just hours after the killings, it said: "In accordance with your instructions" the five had been located and shot.

The officer then asked his superior for orders about what to do with the bodies and the journalists' personal effects. The bodies were looted and burned.

Channel 9 cameraman Brian Peters, 29, and reporter Malcolm Rennie, 28, Channel 7 reporter Greg Shackleton, 27, cameraman Gary Cunningham, 27, and sound recordist Tony Stewart, 21, all died at Balibo on October 16, 1975.

In evidence which will further embarrass the Australian Government over its relationship with Indonesia, investigators with the NSW coronial unit have been told the explosive intelligence cable may still exist.

Mr Brownbill made his statement reluctantly in 1999 to former National Crime Authority head Tom Sherman, who was conducting the second government inquiry into the deaths of the journalists.

While it backed up other evidence, Mr Sherman made no mention of Mr Brownbill's claims in his report, which concluded the men had died in a "monumental blunder" during fire between the invading Indonesians and East Timor's Fretelin forces.

Mr Brownbill was secretary to the Hope Royal Commission into the nation's intelligence and security when he visited the sensitive Defence Signals Directorate at Shoal Bay near Darwin in 1977.

He said in his statement that a young man handed a piece of paper to him and fellow royal commission investigator Ian Cunliffe, saying: "You people should know about this."

Mr Cunliffe told Mr Sherman in 1999 that Mr Brownbill had not been happy about the cable being revealed because "his inclination is to let sleeping dogs lie".

While Mr Cunliffe's evidence was made public, the contents of the cable seen by Mr Brownbill was not.

The Department of Defence and Defence Signals Directorate are refusing to hand over the secret documents to the inquest, claiming public interest immunity.

Lawyers for the families of the five men will ask NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch on Thursday to overturn a decision and allow them to call former prime minister Gough Whitlam and senior ministers from 1975 to ask them what they knew.

"We want to be able to say when the inquest is finished that all reasonable questions have been asked and answered which will lead to the truth of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of these five journalists," solicitor Rodney Lewis said yesterday.

"These guys were simply bringing the news to us while we warmed our toes in the loungeroom watching TV.

"They were our eyes and ears and yet people have said about them that they put themselves in danger. They were doing their job."




© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news