Thursday, 16 September 2010

Indonesia: Australian police appeal for mercy

Aussie Cops Seek Mercy for Bali 9 Drug Smuggler
Made Arya Kencana & AFP
September 16, 2010
From: The Jakarta Globe

Denpasar. The former Australian Federal Police commissioner who passed on intelligence to Indonesian police that helped doom the so-called Bali Nine drug smugglers, asked a court here on Thursday to spare the life of one of the smugglers.

Testifying at the appeal of 24-year-old Scott Rush, Mick Keelty, the former AFP commissioner, told the court that Rush was a "small-time player" and did not deserve his sentence of death by firing squad.

"His [Rush's] role was minimal. He was a courier," Keelty said during the hearing at the Denpasar District Court.

Keelty told the court that as the AFP's top-ranking officer in 2005, he had given the green light on two occasions for information to be passed on to his Indonesian counterparts about the nine Australians who conspired to smuggle 8.2 kilograms of heroin from Bali into Australia.

The Australian, a daily newspaper, reported in August that the AFP asked the Indonesian police in April 2005 to "attempt to keep the group under surveillance, identify the source of the drugs and obtain as much evidence and intelligence as possible to help the AFP nail the organizers in Australia."

The newspaper also reported that four days later, the AFP sent Indonesian authorities another letter containing the "dates, times and flight details of the Bali Nine's return to Australia."

Keelty told the court that the AFP, which was tipped off about the plan by a lawyer working for Rush's father, included intelligence on Rush's "minimal role" and his young age at the time of the foiled drug run.

Rush, whose original life sentence was changed to death on appeal by prosecutors, was 19 years old when he was caught with heroin strapped to his body at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport.

"This young man had just gone to Indonesia for the first time. In fact, it was the very first time he ever got out of Australia," Keelty told the court.

Michael Phelan, the current AFP deputy commissioner, told the court that Rush did not have a criminal record in Australia and because it was his first drug offense he would face "less than 10 years" if convicted of the same crime at home.

The hearing was adjourned until Sept. 26.

Rush was not in court on Thursday but last month he publicly apologized to the court and begged for forgiveness. Two other Bali Nine members, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, have also launched appeals against their death sentences.