Death-Row Australians Make Final Move to Live

DENPASAR

Two Australians on death row in Bali for their leading part in a drug-smuggling operation appeared before the Denpasar District Court on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to escape the firing squad.

Andrew Chan, 26, and Myuran Sukumaran, 29 — part of the media-dubbed Bali Nine group — have filed judicial reviews of their cases that opened in separate hearings before three-member panels of judges on Tuesday.

Chan read out a statement to the judges in which he begged for mercy.

“I regret my past behaviour. I seek forgiveness from Indonesians for my actions, which caused trouble to everyone and my family,” he said.

“When I was jailed five years ago I foolishly thought I knew everything. While in court my lawyer advised me to say I was innocent.

“I thought I could walk free without being punished, although I’d committed the crime. I apologise that I didn’t respect the court at the time. I regret that I committed a stupid act.”

Chan said he wanted to spend his life working as a counsellor “so I can provide guidance to young people to not commit the mistake I did.”

Sukumaran also said he had been foolish.

“I was so stupid, so very stupid as I’d heeded bad advice and as a result I should receive a harsh punishment,” he told the court.

“I took a long time to realise that I must think of others and not only of myself. My actions harmed others.”

Overseas media interest in the hearings is intense; the courtrooms were jammed with foreign reporters, chiefly from Australia.

The prisoners are seeking to have their sentences commuted to 20 years to life.

Another member of the Bali Nine also on death row, Scott Rush, has filed a judicial review that opened last month. The remaining members are serving 20 years to life in prison.

All nine were arrested in April 2005 as they were preparing to take 8.3 kilograms of heroin strapped to their bodies from Bali to Australia.

If the Denpasar court is convinced the final appeals are valid, it will send the cases to the Supreme Court in Jakarta to decide on them.

If not, the Denpasar District Court will reject the appeals, meaning the previous Supreme Court death penalty verdict stands and leaving a pardon from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the only avenue left for the suspects to save their lives.

Drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, a fellow Australian at Kerobokan Prison, is awaiting a decision in her bid for presidential clemency to quash her 20-year sentence.

Indonesia carries out capital punishment with a police firing squad, in a remote location such as a forest in the middle of the night.

Tuesday’s hearing was adjourned until October, when it will hear from witnesses.

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