[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 06:30 GMT 07:30 UK
Reporters 'murdered' in E Timor
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Map
Indonesian troops deliberately killed five Australian-based journalists during the invasion of East Timor in 1975, an Australian inquiry has heard.

A senior lawyer has told a coroner in Sydney that eyewitness evidence has proved the men were murdered after they had tried to surrender.

The Australian and Indonesian governments have always insisted the journalists died accidentally.

Previous Australian investigations have reached the same conclusion.

How the five journalists died in the border town of Balibo in October 1975 as Indonesian troops entered East Timor is hotly disputed.

The various theories have ranged from murder and execution to accidental death.

Crossfire

An Australian coroner has been told by a senior lawyer that there was reliable evidence the men were deliberately killed by Indonesian soldiers.

Mark Tedeschi, QC, said that witnesses had seen the reporters cut down in cold blood after they had tried to hand themselves over to the Indonesians.

Mr Tedeschi said at least three of the correspondents were shot on the orders of an army captain, while a fifth man was stabbed by another officer.

The coroner heard that it was almost certain the decision to kill the foreigners was made by a senior figure in the Indonesian military.

These submissions have contradicted long-standing claims by the Australian and Indonesian governments.

They have insisted the Balibo five died accidentally, caught in crossfire between invading forces and East Timorese fighters.

Two official investigations by Australian authorities have previously reached the same conclusion.

The coroner's inquiry in Sydney is examining the death of Brian Peters.

The British-born cameraman died alongside colleagues from the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Their families have always maintained they were murdered by Indonesian special forces to cover up their attack on Balibo.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific