THE inquest into the 1975 killing of five newsmen in Balibo has exploded into a diplomatic row, with a senior Indonesian politician storming out of Australia and Canberra facing a recommendation to prosecute for war crimes.
After the issue received widespread coverage in Indonesia, a chanting crowd of several hundred people, some holding signs including “F— off Australia”, gathered outside the embassy in Jakarta yesterday to protest against the treatment given to the city’s governor, Sutiyoso, during his visit to Australia.
Mr Sutiyoso, a retired army lieutenant-general, cut short an official tour of NSW on Tuesday night after police requested he testify about his role in the special forces attack in Balibo on October 16 in which the television newsmen died.
Indonesia is considering retaliating against Australia’s “unacceptable action” in attempting to force Mr Sutiyoso to testify, said the Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda.
After meeting Mr Sutiyoso, Mr Wirayuda summoned the Australian ambassador, Bill Farmer, to his office last night to deliver a direct protest and demand further explanation. He said the “unpleasant incident” was performed by Australian police and their conduct was unacceptable.