Balibo

, a film that tells of the events surrounding the slaying of New Zealand journalist Gary Cunningham and four Australian colleagues by Indonesian soldiers in East Timor in 1975, will be showcased at the International Press Institute world congress next month.

Exclusive footage from the film will be shown at the June 8 conference of the IPI, which maintains a "death watch" keeping count of the journalists killed because of their work each year (25 so far in 2009).

It will follow a special presentation at the conference in Helsinki, Finland, featuring award-winning director Robert Connolly; actor Damon Gameau, who plays slain television reporter Gregory Shackleton; and Maureen Tolfree, sister of one of the journalists killed in East Timor and long-time campaigner for justice.

Advertisement

Cunningham is played by Gyton Grantley, an Australian actor, best known for his portrayal of convicted murderer and drug trafficker Carl Williams in the hit Australian television show

Underbelly

.

The film is told through the eyes of Roger East (played by Anthony LaPaglia), an Australian who went to East Timor to investigate the earlier killings of five fellow journalists and was himself murdered there.

"We are proud to be part of this effort to bring the story of these horrific crimes to a wider audience", IPI director David Dadge said.

"We hope this film will finally encourage the Indonesian authorities to ... bring to justice those who committed these crimes, something the families and colleagues of these men have sought for too long."

Shackleton, Peters, Cunningham, and British reporter Malcolm Rennie, and Australian soundman Tony Stewart travelled to the tiny East Timorese village of Balibo in October 1975 to investigate reports of Indonesian incursions, and witnessed Indonesian troops massing near the border.

Eyewitness reports have said that when Indonesian troops and a group of Timorese insurgents attacked Balibo on October 16, the journalists surrendered and were executed.

Advertisement

A few weeks later, East travelled to East Timor to investigate their disappearance and was last seen in early December 1975, hands bound behind his back, being dragged across the square of East Timor's capital Dili by Indonesian soldiers.

It is believed he was executed on the city's main wharf along with Timorese locals, whose corpses were cast into the sea.

Since the killings, IPI and the relatives of the men have sought an investigation into the deaths.

The Indonesian military has declined to prosecute its forces, but an Australian coroner Dorelle Pinch, of Sydney, referred to Australian authorities a finding that the journalists were killed by Indonesian special force soldiers after surrendering.

- NZPA