Anthony LaPaglia to play Star journo

HOLLYWOOD actor Anthony LaPaglia has called for a coronial inquiry into the death of former Northern Star journalist Roger East.

Mr East was shot and killed while on assignment in East Timor 32 years ago. Mr LaPaglia plays Mr East in an upcoming film about the Balibo Five journalists killed by Indonesian forces during the country's invasion of East Timor.

Mr East, then 51, is sometimes referred to as the sixth victim of the Balibo massacre. He was not part of the Balibo Five, but had been investigating their deaths.

He was in Dili when Indonesian paratroopers landed on December 7.

Mr East was one of only three journalists in Timor - the others being Michael Richardson, of The Age, and Jill Jolliffe, a freelancer then working for Reuters.

When it became obvious Indonesia was about to invade, Mr Richardson and Ms Jolliffe evacuated to Darwin, but Mr East decided to remain with the Timorese.

He filed one story that night to Australian Associated Press in Darwin before he was captured and shot the next day. No one has ever been tried over his death.

The Northern Territory government decided last year not to hold an inquiry into Mr East's death, partly on the grounds he had only lived in Darwin for 10 months before he was killed.

"Roger was an Australian citizen ... so why does it matter where he was from," Mr LaPaglia said.

"The Northern Territory is still under Australian jurisdiction, right?"

Mr LaPaglia has also called on the Federal Government to send a forensic team to East Timor to recover the remains of Mr East and the five Australian newsmen killed in Balibo.

Mr LaPaglia has also told journalists he believes a shoebox supposedly containing the remains of the five newsmen that authorities took to Jakarta to be buried contained only dirt.

Before travelling overseas, Mr East worked as a Northern Star reporter in our offices at Ballina, Lismore and Casino.

After the Star, he worked as a publicity officer for the Country Party in Queensland, and had been working in Darwin as a press officer for the Darwin Reconstruction Board.


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