After 32 years, families may uncover how loved ones died in a East Timor dirty war





In the three decades since Brian Peters died during Indonesia’s secret invasion of East Timor, his sister Maureen Tolfree has been told countless versions of who killed him and how.

There was the story put out by the Indonesians in 1975: that he and four fellow journalists died accidentally, caught up in shooting between rival groups of East Timorese. There was the testimony of several witnesses: that Brian and his colleagues were murdered by Indonesian commandos. And then there was the version favoured by the British Government, and by two official Australian inquiries: that, conveniently, it was impossible to know...

For 31 years, the stink of a cover-up has lingered around the tragedy of the Balibo Five, as they are known after the obscure village where they died. But finally the truth may be about to emerge. Next week, Mrs Tolfree, now 61, will sit in an Australian court where a coroner will conduct the first judicial inquiry into the death of Brian Peters. It is likely to be the last chance to discover who killed the five men, and it will focus further attention on the British and Australian diplomats who tacitly encouraged Indonesia’s brutal invasion and did their best to avoid embarrassing its Government with questions about the killings.

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