Bali Nine Ringleaders Seek 20 Years in Place of Death

DENPASAR

The two Australian ring-leaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, are fighting for their lives in Denpasar District Court in appeal hearings that commenced last Friday.

Their appeals – like that of Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush – are their last judicial avenue of escape from the firing squad. If their appeals are denied their only hope is a clemency decision from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Lawyers for Myuran Suku-maran and Andrew Chan say both men accept that they deserve stiff punishment but are arguing for 20-year jail terms in place of the death penalty. The spokes-man for their legal team, Todung Mulya Lubis, said that they were appealing against the sentence, not the conviction.

“It’s true that they should be punished, but not with the death penalty. We are seeking to have it reduced to a 20-year jail term,” he said. 

“We filed a judicial review as we consider this case is against basic rights which are guaranteed in our constitution,” Lubis said, adding that the death penalty was not an appropriate punis-hment and that executing the men would not act as a deterrent to other would-be drug smugglers.

Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in 2005 with seven other people and charged with trying to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin into Australia from Indonesia.  

Lubis said that the fact that the smugglers were caught before they actually took the drugs out of Bali should have resulted in a lighter sentence. “Technically speaking, there was no export of the drugs. An attempt to export is not the same as exporting,” he said.

The appeals, which will be forwarded to Indonesia’s Sup-reme Court, will also argue that the Sukumaran and Chan have been successfully reha-bilitated.

Sukumaran’s submission also argues that Indonesia has signed the UN convention of civil and political rights, a treaty that supports international legal precedent that effectively outlaws the death penalty for drug crimes.

The submission also says evidence from other members of the Bali nine needs to be treated with caution, it says. It also cites the Indonesian constitution’s recognition that all people have a basic right to life.

Lubis said: “The judges should take into consideration that both convicts have changed a lot. They teach their fellow inmates skills such as operating computers and painting.”

Witness testimonies for the appeal are likely to begin in Denpasar next month. 

The third Bali Nine death row convict, Scott Anthony Rush, launched his own appeal against his sentence last month. His appeal hearings began this week.

If the appeals fail the only remaining legal option for the men is a direct request for clemency to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Another Bali Nine convict, Renae Lawrence, was given a five-month cut in her 20-year sentence on Independence Day as part of the traditional remissions handed out to good behaviour prisoners to mark Indonesia’s birthday.

Fellow prisoner Schapelle Corby, convicted in 2005 of smuggling more than 4 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in her boogie-board bag, also got five months shaved off her life sentence, which is generally 25 years.

Corby has now had a year in total cut from her sentence. She has made an appeal for clemency to President Yudhoyono, backed by a judge’s opinion.

• The Bali International Women’s Association gave prisoners at Kerobokan an Independence Day treat with a musical performance and gifts.

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