260 Forde to Mountbatten

Cablegram 11 CANBERRA, 21 May 1946


Australian Government much appreciates your concurrence in attachment to your Command of Judge Kirby in connection with investigation of circumstances surrounding murder of three Australians in Java. [1] In accordance with your suggestion, action has been taken through Australian Representative, Batavia, to make necessary arrangements direct with British Authorities in Batavia.

2. Judge Kirby expects to be able to complete special enquiry which he has been conducting in Tasmania in time to leave for Singapore on 28th May. He would appreciate personal discussion with you before proceeding to Batavia.

3. As you are aware Australian Government is greatly concerned to ensure that perpetrators of crime are brought to justice and that most appropriate procedures are adopted for their trial. We have received a number of reports from our representative in Batavia as to procedures which may be adopted including suggestions- (a) that Indonesians may try both Japanese and Indonesians accused and (b) that Japanese may be handed over for trial by British Authorities and that Indonesians accused will be tried by Indonesian Court. [2]

4. For various reasons neither of these proposals seems entirely satisfactory and we very much hope that decision as to procedure to be adopted can be delayed until arrival of Judge Kirby and discussed with him.

5. In the meantime Government feels it is highly desirable that accused should be handed over to British custody. While it is realised that this may not be easy to arrange, Government would be grateful if you could take steps to ensure that everything possible is done to this end.

6. We feel that unless accused are in British custody there can be no assurance that full and impartial investigation will take place. On the other hand, if transfer to British custody can be arranged, slight delay pending arrival of Judge Kirby for consultation would not be significant.

7. I am sure you will find that when Judge Kirby arrives he will give every possible assistance. At the same time the presence of an Australian judge on the spot who can report back to the Government regarding procedures ultimately decided upon and surrounding circumstances would be of special value to the Australian Government.

8. Please pass copy to Australian Commissioner, Singapore.'

1 See Document 242.

2 See Document 240.

3 Brookes reported on the same day that he had been advised by the Indonesian authorities that the Japanese suspects had committed suicide.

[AA:A4355/2, 5/1]