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Death of journalist is explored on silver screen

The life and tragic death of a journalist who worked for the Isle of Man Examiner in the 1950s has been made into a film.

Australian journalist Roger East was killed in East Timor while investigating the murders of five fellow reporters by Indonesian armed forces in 1975.

Earlier in his career he had enjoyed a spell as a senior reporter on the Isle of Man Examiner, having arrived on the island after training on local papers in Australia.

His story is explored in the film Balibo, starring Anthony LaPaglia in the role of East.

The killings of what became known as the Balibo 5 have been well-documented in Australia amid claims of a cover-up by the authorities.

East was the last foreign journalist left in Timor when the Indonesians invaded the former Portuguese territory in December 1975.

He had planned to try and stay on through the occupation, and send independent eye-witness accounts of the events in Timor from a hiding place in the hills outside Dili.

But in December 1975 he was seen being dragged, hands bound, across Dili’s main square. An Australian inquiry 20 years later concludes he was later shot.

Retired Isle of Man Newspapers’ news editor Alan Bell was a junior reporter on the rival Isle of Man Times at the time East was working on the island.

Alan recalled: “He was a typical Australian – a real character. He worked hard and played hard, he liked a drink.

“He wasn’t at the Examiner very long. We used to get all sorts of characters turning up on the island and working for the newspaper in those days. I read in the newspapers that he’d been killed in East Timor.”

Balibo is due for release in Australian cinemas this year but may also be screened in the UK.


Elvis (07/02/2009 18:07:47)
Our freedom is part of your contribution.
There is no a single worth word we can say to your contribution but Our mind and pray to you and loved ones left behind.
Balibo Five,Roger East and Camal….Santa Cruz Massacre You are the Hero of Timor Leste Liberation.