Newsmen `pleaded for their lives' in East Timor

SYDNEY - A witness has come forward 34 years after the Balibo Five were killed, saying he saw Indonesian soldiers murder the newsmen as they pleaded for their lives.

A man named only as Alberto said he saw two men shoot three of the five journalists, all of whom died in the East Timorese border town of Balibo in 1975.

"I saw it, absolutely, with my own eyes," he told the Nine Network.

"He said `Journalist, I'm a journalist' but the Indonesians didn't want to know about him being a journalist and fired off shots.

"The one standing fell to the ground and then they fired at the other two who were seated on the ground."

The revelation comes after the Australian Federal Police in September launched a war crimes investigation into the deaths of Australians Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart, Britons Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie and New Zealander Gary Cunningham.

Successive Australian and Indonesian governments had claimed they were accidentally killed in crossfire but a 2007 NSW inquiry found a group of soldiers led by Indonesian Special Forces captain Yusuf Yosfiah ordered the deaths.

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