Ambassador objects to Balibo probe


Indonesia’s Ambassador has contacted the Australian Federal Police to raise concerns about its investigation into the deaths of the Balibo Five.


But Indonesia insists the meeting was not an attempt to intervene in the case, which has threatened to derail Australia’s relations with the country.

Five Australian-based journalists were killed by troops in the East Timor border town of Balibo in October 1975.

A 2007 coroner’s investigation found they were murdered in a bid to keep the invasion secret.

Australian police investigation

Indonesia says the five were killed accidentally during fighting with Timorese rebels, an explanation accepted by successive Australian governments.

Primo Alui Julianto says there are still some in his country who consider Australia to be the United States’ regional deputy sheriff.

And he says there is a danger that sentiment could be strengthened by the AFP’s Balibo Five investigation.

“We are concerned that it will create again those sentiments in our society,” he said.

The Ambassador met an AFP commissioner on Thursday, seeking clarification of the reasons for the investigation.

Inquiry ‘threatening’ relations

He says he did not ask the police to call a halt to their inquiries.

“But of course we voiced our concern because it cannot be beneficial for our relations,” he said.

The Indonesian President has previously suggested the inquiry could damage relations between the two countries.

And the Ambassador says the case is closed – and that Indonesia would never agree to extradite any suspects to Australia to face trial.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says it is an issue that needs to be managed carefully and sensitively.

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