REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

Impunity prevails: Australia's federal police fail the Balibo Five

Placards stuck to banners stand outside the Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney 8 May 2007, where the inquest into the death of Brian Peters, one of five Australian-based journalists killed by Indonesian troops at Balibo in East Timor in 1975, was held
Placards stuck to banners stand outside the Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney 8 May 2007, where the inquest into the death of Brian Peters, one of five Australian-based journalists killed by Indonesian troops at Balibo in East Timor in 1975, was held

REUTERS/David Gray

This article was originally published on alliance.org.au on 22 October 2014.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the union and industry advocate for Australia's journalists, condemns the decision of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to abandon the investigation into the murder of five Australian journalists in East Timor.

October 16 marked the 39th anniversary of the murder of journalists Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Tony Stewart, Gary Cunningham and Greg Shackleton in Balibo.

MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said, "This is an outrageous decision. It means that those who murdered our colleagues are literally getting away with murder. Last week the AFP admitted that over the course of its five year investigation it had neither sought any co-operation from Indonesia nor had it interacted with the Indonesian National Police. This shameful failure means that the killers of the Balibo Five can sleep easy, comforted that they will never be pursued for their war crimes, never brought to justice and will never be punished for the murder of five civilians. Impunity has won out over justice."

On November 16 2007, NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch brought down a finding in her inquest into the death of Brian Peters. Pinch found that Peters, in company with the other slain journalists, had "died at Balibo in Timor Leste on 16 October 1975 from wounds sustained when he was shot and/or stabbed deliberately, and not in the heat of battle, by members of the Indonesian Special Forces, including Christoforus da Silva and Captain Yunus Yosfiah on the orders of Captain Yosfiah, to prevent him from revealing that Indonesian Special Forces had participated in the attack on Balibo. There is strong circumstantial evidence that those orders emanated from the Head of the Indonesian Special Forces, Major-General Benny Murdani to Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, Special Forces Group Commander in Timor, and then to Captain Yosfiah."

Yunus Yosfiah rose to be a Major General in the Indonesian Army and is reportedly its most decorated solider. He is also a former Minister of Information in the Indonesian Government.

On September 9, 2009, the AFP announced that it would conduct a war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Balibo Five. But this morning the AFP said that its five year investigation had "identified challenges" with establishing jurisdiction but it had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove an offence. As a result, the AFP had decided to take no further action.

MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said: "The NSW Coroner named the alleged perpetrators involved in murdering the Balibo Five in 2007. Seven years later the AFP has achieved nothing. It makes a mockery of the coronial inquest for so little to have been done in all that time."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
Case history


Latest Tweet:

.@NABEELRAJAB's next hearing for TV interviews is tomorrow. Join the thunderclap to call for his release… https://t.co/AkNAQcZVya