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Call on Government to act on killing of Kiwi

Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Box 68419

3 June, 2007
Media Release:

Call on Government to act on killing of New Zealander

IHRC wants NZ Government to seek justice for "Balibo Five"& Gary Cunningham

The Sydney coronial inquest into the deaths of the five Australian based journalists at Balibo in East Timor on October 16, 1975 has just concluded with a hard-hitting summation from the Coroner's legal counsel.

"It is now time for New Zealand to stop playing possum. For 32 years New Zealand has ducked for cover and left it to Australia to 'investigate' the deaths. Now because of the determined actions of the families of the deceased the truth is finally coming out," said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee.

Counsel Mark Tedeschi QC said that the deaths amounted to pre-meditated murder and he wants to see two Indonesian citizens face trial for war crimes. There is now strong evidence to charge Mohammed Yunus Yosfiah and Christoforus da Silva with a direct role in the killings. New evidence also establishes the culpability of Australian politicians and officials who were complicit with Indonesia in covering up these crimes as well as Indonesia's plans to invade and occupy East Timor.

"We owe it to Gary Cunningham's memory and to his family to do our part to see that justice is finally achieved. We are now urging the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to take this issue to the Solicitor General to ask him to advise on the way forward under provisions in New Zealand and international law.

Mr Tedeschi has pointed out that the Geneva Protocols are applicable and that Under Article 147 the deliberate killing of civilian non-combatants in war-like situations, constituted an a war crime, punishable with up to life imprisonment. It may also be appropriate to take this issue to the International Criminal Court. What is essential is that New Zealand works with Australia to ensure that an internationally just trial is held."

"Last week the Governor of Jakarta angrily turned down an invitation to present evidence before the Coroner's Court and hurriedly left Australia. That is a clear indication that Indonesian authorities are unlikely to cooperate with a war crimes trial. However, this is all the more reason why New Zealand must now take a stand."


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