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Son pushes for Timor case to be re-examined

Australian Associated Press - October 22, 2014

The son of New Zealander Gary Cunningham, who was killed with four other newsmen in the Timorese town of Balibo almost 40 years ago, wants the case re-examined.

Australian Federal Police yesterday dropped a war crimes investigation into the killings, saying they had insufficient evidence to prove an offence. The decision comes five years after the AFP launched a "complex and difficult" investigation into the deaths.

"As a result, the AFP has exhausted all inquiries in relation to this matter and will be taking no further action," it said in a statement to AAP.

Cunningham was a cameraman who was covering the Indonesian invasion of East Timor when he and Australians Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart and Britons Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie they were killed in Balibo, a border town, in 1975.

A New South Wales coroner in 2007 blamed the killings on Indonesian special forces soldiers.

Cunningham's son John Milkins wants the case re-examined as it was based on a morally and legally wrong brief. "I certainly think it should be investigated if there's been a miscarriage of justice because of a faulty legal premise," he told AAP.

Milkins is disappointed five years of police work and A$500,000 has been effectively wasted on a null outcome. But he also believes it's not the end in the fight for answers. "It's maybe a chapter closing," he said.

Shackleton's widow Shirley Shackleton described the AFP decision as a "shocking" and "terrible" outcome."You kill five people... and it doesn't constitute an offence?" "How would you feel if that was your son, your dad?"

She blamed the Office of International Law inside the Attorney-General Department's Office for the decision, saying it had provided the AFP with "spurious" advice.

She hopes to launch a court case at the highest level to get "proper answers"."I will keep on this until I die."

The police investigation was launched two years after a NSW coronial inquest concluded the Indonesian army had deliberately killed the "Balibo Five" to cover up its invasion. The case has been a long-running sore for Australia and Indonesian relations.

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/62619113/son-pushes-for-timor-case-to-be-reexamined