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Indonesia expects death penalty backlash JAKARTA - Indonesia is braced for a public backlash in Australia against any death sentences meted out to the Bali Nine. Prosecutors in Denpasar will in the next fortnight start making sentence demands for the nine Australians, who were arrested last April over a failed bid to smuggle 8kg of heroin worth $4 million from Bali to Sydney.

Most trial watchers expect them to demand death sentences for some or all of the group, possibly straining fast-warming relations with Australia. The requests to judges in the Denpasar District Court will be delivered less than two months after a public outcry in Australia over Singapore's decision to hang Australian drug courier Nguyen Tuong Van.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, speaking to AAP after his annual foreign policy statement, said he was aware of the backlash in Australia to Nguyen's hanging, including Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's description of it as "barbaric". "We anticipate in terms of bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia that the sentence that might be delivered by our courts might create an emotional reaction on the part of the Australian public," he said. But he said any fallout from death sentences would likely pass quickly.

"Like the case of the Australian citizen in Singapore, I think after a while there will be a good understanding, because it is not only that the death penalty is imposed to Australians, but also to other traffickers, both foreign and domestic," Wirayuda said. Wirayuda recently described relations between Jakarta and Canberra as at an all-time high following the 1999 nadir after a bloody rampage by Jakarta-backed militias in East Timor during a vote that led to the territory's independence.

"Australia recognises Papua as part of the unitary state of Indonesia, so there are no more obstacles in the two countries' relations," he said. He said the legal process in Bali was a domestic affair for Indonesia alone, a position well understood by Australia's government. "They understand that in Indonesian positive law the death penalty is there and in practice our courts often impose the death penalty for serious offences like drug trafficking," Wirayuda said.

Nguyen, 25, who was of Vietnamese descent, was hanged at Singapore's Changi prison despite repeated pleas for clemency from the Australian government. He was convicted of carrying nearly 400 grams of heroin at Singapore airport while travelling from Cambodia to Australia. Lawyers for the Bali Nine have called on the federal government to begin lobbying Indonesia for clemency immediately. But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has refused, saying the court process should be left to run its course before Australia lodges any appeals.


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23 November 2005 · Leslie story could 'humiliate' Indonesia
18 November 2005 · Australian model to be freed soon after Bali verdict
12 November 2005 · Indonesians raid 'one of world's biggest drug plants'
15 October 2005 · Court appearance for alleged drug ringleader


Posted in Drugs @ 06 January 2006 07:12 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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