Jails Boss Says Indonesia Should Not Have Death Penalty
A former long-serving judge at the Indonesian Supreme Court and the head of Kerobokan Prison in Bali have pleaded for the lives of two Australian men facing the firing squad, arguing that they have rehabilitated themselves and should not be executed.
Former justice Yayha Harahap, who served for four decades at the country’s top court, told a panel of three judges at the Denpasar District Court at a final-appeal hearing on Friday for Australians Andrew Chan, 26, and Myuran Sukumaran, 29, that the men should not have received the death sentence.
He said they had been convicted of drug trafficking but had not managed to take the drug out of Indonesia.
The convicted ringleaders were arrested along with seven others in April 2005 as they tried to take 8.3 kilograms of heroin strapped to their bodies from Bali to Australia via Ngurah Rai International Airport.
They had passed through immigration at the airport but had not yet boarded their aircraft when Bali Police officers acting on what turned out to be a controversial a tip-off from Australian Federal Police (AFP) swooped on the group.
Australia does not have or support the death penalty and critics have said the AFP should have waited until the Bali Nine arrived home before arresting them, thereby sparing them from capital punishment.
Another member of the Bali Nine, Scott Rush, is also on death row and is awaiting a verdict on his final appeal. The remainder of the group are serving sentences ranging from 20 years to life at Kerobokan Prison.
Harahap argued on Friday that under Indonesian law, to traffic a drug it must leave the country’s territory and jurisdiction, which had not happened in the case of the Bali Nine.
“When someone wants to export drugs from a customs area, it must be determined where the customs area actually is. Getting something through customs means a person has to have taken it out of the last post in the customs area.
“When it’s still in the customs area, it is said that the departure of the goods is not complete, the export has not yet taken place,” he said.
The prisoners are hoping to show a fundamental judicial error in their verdicts that will allow their death penalties to be commuted.
Meanwhile, the head of Kerobokan Prison, Siswanto, also testified for the inmates on Friday, saying Chan and Sukumaran were essentially good people who were helping other prisoners and that Indonesia should not use the death penalty in its legal system.
“Thanks to them, the prisoners have organised their painting exhibition and their artworks have been sold and taken to foreign countries such as Sweden and Denmark,” he told the court.
“They are still young. They deserve to be given time to fix their past behaviour. I personally cannot accept it if they are executed,” he said.
“I perfectly understand that our country has the death sentence but it should be God who decides whether one should live or not.”
The hearings continue on November 5.