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Courts hear Bali death sentence appeals
By Geoff Thompson

Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman in Denpasar District Court. Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman in Denpasar District Court. (Reuters)
All six members of the Bali nine on death row have had their appeals heard in Bali or Jakarta today.

Handcuffed and looking a little older, Matthew Norman wore a Queensland Police cap to court, where he, Tan Duc Thanh Nyugen and Si Yi Chen attended the first hearing of their judicial review application to Denpasar's District Court.

They are challenging the death penalties handed down by Indonesia's Supreme Court last year.

Nyugen, Norman and Chen's lawyer, Erwin Siregar, will call Australian legal experts to argue that their death penalties handed down by the Supreme Court last year wrongfully ignore lower court decisions.

In Jakarta, at Indonesia's Constitutional Court, the death sentences of Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were also challenged on the basis that Indonesia's death penalty for drug offences breached its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The country has signed the covenant, while other death-sentencing nations in the region, such as Malaysia and Singapore, have not.

University of New South Wales legal expert Andrew Byrne argued Rush, Chan and Sukumaran all deserved the protection of Indonesia's constitution.

"Most other countries which I've been able to look at appear to permit non-citizens to bring constitutional challenges where citizens can do so," he said.

Columbia University's Jeffrey Fagan said Indonesia was breaching its obligations, as a party to the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"There is no social science evidence that shows any deterrent effects of capital punishment on drug trafficking or on any other drug crime," he said.

  • Click Here for Bali 9 Case Information


  • Lawyer pleads for expert to help Bali three
    Mark Forbes

    Matthew Norman Final appeal ... Matthew Norman enters the Supreme Court in Bali yesterday wearing a Queensland police cap. Murdani Usman Photo: Reuters
    DENPASAR, Bali: Lawyers for three Australian heroin smugglers have pleaded for John Howard to produce an Australian international law expert to bolster their appeals against their death sentences.

    In a move suggesting desperation and under-preparation,the lawyer Erwin Siregar tabled a letter, sent to the Australian Prime Minister last week, during the first Bali hearing of the final appeals of three of the six Australians on death row.

    "We respectfully request your assistance to provide any witness who is really opposed to the death penalty," the letter to Mr Howard states.

    Mr Siregar said he did not know who he wanted to appear, but Australia had an obligation to assist its citizens and uphold its opposition to capital punishment.

    Judges hearing the Supreme Court appeals of thew Norman, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen and Si Yi Chen granted Mr Siregar an extension of up to two weeks to produce an Australian expert with Canberra's help.

    Australian officials were still considering their response to Mr Siregar's request last night.

    The Bali appeal was one of yesterday's two parallel legal attempts to save the six from Indonesian firing squads.

    In Jakarta, Indonesia's Constitutional Court heard a range of experts who claimed Indonesia's application of the death penalty to drug offenders breached its constitution and obligations under international law. The challenge has been lodged by another Bali nine courier, Scott Rush, and alleged ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

    The head of Indonesia's Human Rights Commission, Abdul Nusantara, said the death penalty contradicted Indonesia's constitutional guarantee of a right to life.

    "It is worth noting that the trend or the majority of the Commission members are of the opinion of abolishing death penalty," Mr Nusantara said.

    A professor of international law at the University of New South Wales, Andrew Byrnes, said that under the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, execution should be reserved for the most serious crime, which international rulings had made clear did not include drug offences.

    Indonesia, which signed the convention in 2005, would violate its international obligations if it proceeded with the executions, Professor Byrnes said.

    The head of the Constitutional Court, Jimly Asshidiqqie, said the hearing was not an international tribunal.

    "However a constitution is about universal values. That is why we have to hear explanations from foreign experts on international legal perspective.

  • Click Here for Bali 9 Case Information


  • Bali mules seek PM's aid in bid to beat firing squad
    Mark Forbes, Denpasar

    Matthew Norman Matthew Norman, wearing a Queensland police cap, in a Bali holding cell yesterday. Photo: Reuters
    LAWYERS for three of the Bali nine have pleaded for Prime Minister John Howard to produce an Australian international law expert to bolster the case against their execution.

    Lawyer Erwin Siregar yesterday tabled a letter, sent to Mr Howard last week, at the first Bali hearing of the final appeals of three of the six Australians on death row.

    "We respectfully request your assistance to provide any witness who is really opposed to the death penalty," the letter states.

    Mr Siregar said Australia had an obligation to help its citizens and uphold its opposition to capital punishment.

    Judges hearing the Supreme Court appeals of drug mules Matthew Norman, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen and Si Yi Chen, granted Mr Siregar an extension of two weeks to produce an Australian expert with Canberra's help.

    Australian officials were last night considering a response to Mr Siregar's request.

    The Bali appeal was one of two parallel legal attempts to save the six from Indonesian firing squads.

    In Jakarta, Indonesia's Constitutional Court heard from experts who said Indonesia's application of the death penalty to drug offenders breached its constitution and obligations in international law.

    This challenge has been lodged by another Bali nine courier, Scott Rush, and the alleged ringleaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

    The head of Indonesia's Human Rights Commission, Abdul Nusantara, said the death penalty contradicted Indonesia's constitutional guarantee of a right to life.

    "It is worth noting that the trend, or the majority of the commission members, are of the opinion of abolishing death penalty," he said.

    A professor of international law at the University of NSW, Andrew Byrnes, said the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights reserved execution for the most serious crime, which international rulings had made clear did not include drug offences. Indonesia, which signed the convention in 2005, would violate its international obligations if it proceeded with the executions.

    Constitutional Court head Jimly Asshidiqqie said the hearing was not an international tribunal. "However, a constitution is about universal values," he said. "That is why we have to hear explanations from foreign experts on international legal perspective."

    In Bali, Mr Siregar and colleague Farhat Abbas are claiming a previous Supreme Court decision to upgrade the sentences of Norman, Nguyen and Chen from 20 years to execution was legally flawed.

    At no point had prosecutors or the initial judges in the case suggested considering the death penalty, Mr Abbas said.

    "These are young kids. They deserve a chance to redeem themselves," he said.

    The trio appeared in good spirits, with 20-year-old Norman, the youngest of those on death row, sporting a Queensland police cap.

    The appeal submission also argues the death penalty is against Indonesia's international obligations, but lawyers for the trio could not explain why they had joined the constitutional challenge of the other Bali nine members.

    Both hearings are continuing.

  • Click Here for Bali 9 Case Information


  • "Bali Nine" Execution In Breach Of Human Rights Says Lawyers
    Sally Grover - AHN Staff Writer

    Jakarta, Indonesia (AHN) - Lawyers for members of the "Bali Nine" are arguing that Indonesia will breach an agreement with the U.N if the convicted drug smugglers are executed.

    The lawyers representing Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Than Nguyen have written a letter to the Federal Government pleading for assistance in saving their lives.

    The three men were arrested in Bali, along with six other young Australian's, in 2005 before attempting to smuggle 10 kilograms of heroin out of Indonesia.

    After a review hearing on the case, Lawyer Erwin Siregar, called on the Howard Government to allow expert witnesses to testify in court on behalf of the prisoners and possibly lower their sentences.

    The case will next be heard on May 16.

    According to reports, the lawyers are claiming that execution of three of the "Bali Nine" is in breach of Indonesia's right to life.

    Columbia University law professor, Jeffrey Fagan, supports the appeal and says there is "no social science evidence to show that the death penalty influences drug trafficking rates - countries that continue to execute, even at high rates, show no decrease in trafficking".

    Surrounding nations, such as Singapore and Malaysia, also punish drug trafficking with execution but have not signed up for the same U.N agreement.

    International law expert Andrew Byrnes, from the University of NSW, echoed the argument that execution is a breach of rights, telling the judges, "This court is not being asked to break radical new ground in terms of international human rights law. Rather, the international law has been set out very clearly."

    The remainder of the "Bali Nine" members has been sentenced to either life imprisonment or 20 years.

  • Click Here for Bali 9 Case Information


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