Australian Police Testify for Death-Row Rush

DENPASAR

Two top Australian police officers testified on Thursday that an Australian drug smuggler on death row in Bali was a minor player and should not be executed.

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty and current Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan appeared at the Denpasar District Court to testify at the final appeal of drug smuggler Scott Rush, 24, against his death sentence.

Rush was a “courier” in the so-called Bali Nine gang of Australians who were caught in 2005 trying to smuggle 8.3 kilogrammes of heroin into Australia from Bali.

Keelty told the court that Rush — who had a life sentence upgraded to death after an earlier appeal — was not a leader of the plot and did not deserve to be sent to a firing squad.

“Scott’s role was very minimal… Scott Rush was not an organiser,” Keelty told the judges, adding that the then-teenager was also “very young” at the time of the crime.

Phelan noted that it was Rush’s first drug offence and as such would face “less than 10 years” if convicted in Australia, which does not have a death penalty.

The appeal is seen as Rush’s next-to-last chance to avoid execution.

If it is rejected his only hope would be a direct appeal for clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has shown little mercy to drug convicts on death row although he regularly reduces sentences for corrupt officials.

Rush was not in court on Thursday but last month he publicly apologised to the court and begged for forgiveness.

“I often wake up having nightmares. I often think about the firing squad and how long will it take me to die,” he told the court.

Australian police were aware that the gang was about to leave Australia for Indonesia but did not intervene to stop it despite the consequences if they were caught and convicted under Indonesia’s harsh anti-drug laws.

Two other Bali Nine members, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, have also launched appeals against their death sentences.

Five others – Martin Stephens, Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj and Thanh Nguyen – are serving life sentences.

Renae Lawrence, the only woman in the group, received 20 years but has had her sentence reduced by almost two years for good behaviour.

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