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31 Kirby to Evatt and Dunk

Cablegram 170 BATAVIA, 20 July 1946

Reference my telegram 163. [1] I saw Sjahrir last night who handed me the documents set out in paragraphs 5 and 6 each dated 18th July and addressed to me and signed by Soekarno as President, Sjahrir as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Sjarifoeddin as Minister for Defence.

2. The signing of the documents by Soekarno and Sjarifoeddin demonstrates Sjahrir's standing with them, as well as the formal agreement to trial by a British Military Court in Batavia.

3. Sjahrir is now leaving again for the interior intending to stay away from Batavia for ten days, but when I told him I would be leaving before this he said he would interrupt his journey and return to Batavia to see me before I left, and that he would use every possible endeavour to enable me to leave for Australia with the suspects [held] in custody [here] [2]

4. This leaves me well pleased with the results of my journey to Djokjakarta, and from signals I have sighted here I think it is only a matter of SAC informing the Foreign Office that there is no military objection to trial by a British Military Court for such a Court to be set up. I am confident that SAC will on Mansergh's advice, also MacKereth's, so advise Foreign Office.

5. His Honour judge R. C. Kirby.

On behalf of the Republic of Indonesia we the undersigned hand to you on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia the complete files of original documents compiled officially as records of the various inquiries and investigations made into the very much regretted death of the three Australian officers at Tjaringin near Bogor on April 17th, 1946.

We also on behalf of our Republic repeat the earlier assurances made to you that the men apparently responsible for the crime will be handed over for trial by a British tribunal in Djakarta when such tribunal is ready to try them. You will understand that we could not possibly agree to the men being tried by a Dutch court or a court on which Dutch officers sit. We would prefer that Australians comprise the court and hope that this can be arranged.

The names of the men appear in the file handed to you with this document and for purposes of complete understanding are:


We wish to make it clear that we are anxious to demonstrate our complete co-operation with you in your efforts to bring the perpetrators of the outrage to justice.

On behalf of the Republic of Indonesia.

6. His Honour judge Kirby.

We thank you for the opportunity you have given us of discussing with you at our capital the speediest method of bringing the criminals concerned in the murder of the Australian officers to justice in a manner satisfactory to our respective peoples.

As we have stated to you we accept only a British tribunal in Jakarta, on which of course no Dutch shall take part, as being the most satisfactory manner of showing the world that justice has been done.

You will have been aware of the recent disorders organized by a small group of irresponsible men and diverted against our Government. During these disorders the unauthorized release of those implicated in the murder took place and we are taking the speediest steps to re-arrest them. We assure you that the release was effected without our knowledge or authority by elements in our community who do not appreciate our keen desire to have and maintain the friendship of the Australian people.

1 Dispatched 19 July, this cablegram reported Kirby's talks in Djokjakarta with Sjarifoeddin over obtaining a written undertaking to re-arrest escapees believed responsible for the murder of three Australian officers on 17 April.

2 The words in square brackets were handwritten on the version cited. Kirby was to leave for Australia on 27 July, with B. T.

Ballard co replace him as Australian Political Representative in the Netherlands East Indies.

[AA:A4355/2, 5/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History