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Three Australians Appeal Indonesia Death Sentences
Three young Australians are seeking a judicial review after Indonesia's Supreme Court sentenced them to death for drug smuggling.

Three young Australians are seeking a judicial review after Indonesia's Supreme Court sentenced them to death for drug smuggling, lawyers said on Monday, in a case that has strained ties between the two nations. The three -- Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman -- are part of the so-called "Bali Nine" gang who were arrested on the resort island in 2005 while trying to smuggle more than 8.2 kg (18 lb) of heroin into Australia.

After an appeal at the Bali High Court, the three were among five of the gang to have their life sentences cut to 20 years.

But this was overturned by the Supreme Court in September and they were handed death sentences after an appeal by prosecutors.

"We are asking for a judicial review with consideration that Indonesia's Supreme Court has made mistakes," said lawyer Farhad Abbas, adding that the young age of the three was also a factor.

"Hopefully, there will be some humane consideration from the judges in the judicial review."

Another lawyer for the group, Erwin Siregar, said the Supreme Court should have chosen either a life sentence or 20 years.

"It showed that the Supreme Court is not consistent. We ask the Supreme Court to free the three over this mistake or give a fair verdict."

The judicial review was filed with Denpasar's district court. Sukarta, an official at the court, said the date of the first hearing would be set once judges had been appointed. The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty passed on two of the ringleaders in the case, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Michael Czugaj had his reduced 20-year jail sentence raised to life, while Martin Stephens had his life term upheld.



Scott Rush had his life term changed to a death sentence.

Renae Lawrence, the only woman in the group, was not affected by the most recent appeals. She had her life term cut to a 20-year sentence in April last year. The new death sentences sparked anger in Australia, which is a staunch opponent of the death penalty.

Indonesia officials have defended the stiff verdicts, which they say they highlight the country's zero tolerance for drug offences. (Reuters)



Bali 9 legal challenge begins
Mark Forbes, Jakarta - April 19, 2007

INDONESIA'S execution of drug offenders breaches its international obligations, Philip Alston of New York University has told the Constitutional Court reviewing death sentences for some of the Bali nine.

Professor Alston, the brother of former Australian minister Richard Alston, said Indonesia had ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty.

Although the treaty provides that some countries may temporarily retain capital punishment, it must be restricted to the "most serious crime".

Professor Alston said there where numerous examples of constitutional and other courts banning the imposition of death penalties.

He said international tribunals had ruled that the most serious crime must involve a direct, deliberate death.

Drug trafficking did not meet the criteria for capital punishment, he said.

"It does not directly involve the loss of life. This in no way understates the severity of the crime of drug trafficking," he said.

The Indonesian Government is opposing the challenge to the death penalty.

Attorney-General Abdul Rahman Saleh, who is leading the case, refused to cross-examine Professor Alston as he disagreed with his views.

"People come from rich countries and know nothing about our situation," Dr Saleh said. The case was only proceeding because Australians were involved, he said.

The hearing is a landmark case for capital punishment in Indonesia and its forceful crackdown on drug offences.

Six of the heroin smuggling syndicate have been ordered to face firing squads. Three have joined the constitutional challenge, while the other three are attempting an appeal to Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Dr Saleh said he strongly supported the death penalty, but would implement the court's recommendations.

The hearing will continue for several weeks.
Bali drugs trio lodge death penalty appeal
Mark Forbes Herald correspondent in Jakarta | April 20, 2007

THREE of six Australians sentenced to die for drugs offences in Bali plan to appeal against their sentences today, saying Indonesia's Supreme Court erred in ordering their executions and calling for a retrial.

The submission of Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman argues that the court should not have upgraded their penalties from 20 years' jail to execution without reconsidering the full facts of their cases.

The three have not joined a separate Constitutional Court challenge to the country's death penalty lodged by three other Australians in the Bali case sentenced to die. However, their appeal asks the Supreme Court to rule that capital punishment contravenes Indonesia's constitution and international obligations.

Nguyen, Chen and Norman were arrested in a room at the Melasti Hotel in Bali, where a small quantity of heroin was also found, shortly after other couriers were apprehended at Bali's airport in April 2005.

They were found guilty of planning to courier a second shipment of heroin to Australia and sentenced to life imprisonment. An initial High Court appeal reduced their sentences to 20 years, but a subsequent Supreme Court ruling ordered their execution.

A. R. Henry, a member of the legal team representing the three, said the appeal was not based on the disparate sentences given to the six other Australians in the Bali case. The other couriers - apprehended with more than eight kilograms of heroin strapped to their bodies - received life sentences or 20-year terms.

The only legal grounds for a further Supreme Court appeal was the introduction of fresh evidence or a demonstrable error in the application of the law, Mr Henry said.

The first Supreme Court appeal failed to reconsider the key facts of the case, he said. "The court cannot change from 20 years to the death penalty without giving full consideration with what was wrong with the previous court decisions."

Lawyers for Nguyen, Chen and Norman will also argue that imposing the death penalty breaches the country's constitutional guarantee of a right to life and its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The challenge by three other Bali drug convicts also centres on this claim

A Supreme Court appeal hearing is expected later this month.

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