Timor won't push for new Balibo probe
East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta says he will not push for a war crimes tribunal to investigate the deaths of six Australians in 1975.
A coronial inquest in 2007 found that Indonesian forces shot and stabbed five television journalists in the small town of Balibo, near the West Timor border.
A few weeks later another Australian journalist, Roger East, was also executed as Indonesian troops parachuted into Dili.
Mr Ramos-Horta says there would be little point in pursuing charges against the soldiers who killed the Australians, or those responsible for deaths of tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians.
"We are dealing with a still powerful neighbour," he said.
"It is highly unlikely that any government in Indonesia in the foreseeable future [would] feel strong enough to bring to trial surviving Indonesian military officers who perpetrated barbarities in East Timor."
Mr Ramos-Horta says Indonesian troops tortured and mutilated the foreign journalists.
"They were not just executed, from what I remember researching at the time, back in '75, '76, at least one of them was brutally, brutally tortured," he said.
He says the Balibo film is largely accurate but its makers were unable to depict the gruesome nature of the killings because the scenes of torture and mutilation by the Indonesian military would be too shocking.
Mr Ramos-Horta says Indonesian officers ordered troops to burn the bodies to conceal the crime.
"Those who killed them felt the need to burn them because senior officers arrived on the scene and saw what happened," he said.
"They knew what the consequences would be, so they had to burn any evidence that those people had been captured alive and then were brutally murdered.
"That's why they burned the bodies, to cover the evidence of torture and mutilations."
'Bring remains home'
Meanwhile Shirley Shackleton, the widow of the late Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, is urging authorities to bring her husband's remains home to Australia.
The 2007 inquest found the journalists had been deliberately killed to stop them covering the Indonesian invasion.
The coroner found the journalists' remains were burnt together and mixed before being buried in Indonesia and recommended they be repatriated if the families agreed.
Ms Shackleton says in the past two weeks the families have received a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) outlining the repatriation process.
"They're saying that the families have to make a decision and let them know that we all want repatriation," Ms Shackleton said.
"We can't be expected to tell them what we want until we know what is in the grave.
"If there is a small speck of my husband left there, I don't want him left up there."
She says a film about the events in Balibo, to be premiered in Melbourne tonight, might have prompted DFAT's action.
"I think the film has caused this," she said.
"It sounds cynical, doesn't it, but I think maybe they know there's going to be a great deal of publicity.
"People who never knew about this are suddenly going to be educated and [for] a lot of people who did know... it's going to open up old wounds."
The film is based on a book by author Jill Jolliff, who was working as a journalist in East Timor when the Balibo Five died.
"Producing this film now shows that you should never give up. There is always the possibility that you will bring war criminals to account or human rights violated anywhere," she said.
"That is very important to continue."
The NSW coroner also recommended prosecutions for those responsible for the deaths, but Jolliff thinks that is unlikely.
"Possibly the exhumation of the bodies is not such a hard call for the current Indonesian Government," she said.
"The extradition of at least one senior military officer certainly is and I don't see that happening easily."