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Last Bali Nine mules face life in jail
Thursday Feb 16

The last three members of the Bali Nine have been jailed for life as judges rejected pleas for mercy and one of their top defence lawyers admitted that clemency hopes for the convicted heroin smugglers were slim.

A day after the two ringleaders of the failed heroin trafficking operation were handed death sentences, Denpasar District Court judges said would-be mules Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen should receive the same life terms meted out to four mules who were arrested with the 8kg stash.

Senior gang lieutenant Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, tried alongside Norman and Chen, was also handed a life sentence.

Norman's mother Robyn Davies said the ruling was just a step off the worst possible result.

"It's better that being shot I suppose," she said grimly, appealing to the Indonesian government to treat her 19-year-old son well in the long years ahead without family.

"Look after him, feed him and give good health up to him," she said.

The trio showed little reaction as the widely-tipped sentence was handed down by chief judge Istiningsih Rahayu.

Following the course of previous rulings, she said the actions of the three had damaged Bali's image and they had shown little remorse during their trials, stonewalling questions and refusing testimony.

"But they are young, polite and have no previous convictions," Rahayu said.

She threw out defence objections against damning evidence from plain-clothed undercover police who secretly questioned Nguyen in his jail cell ahead of trial.

"It was legal and did not violate human rights," the judge said.

Norman, the youngest member of the nine, arrived at court dressed in a dark singlet and with a clean-shaven head.

His tension was plain as he shoulder-charged a photographer and vaulted up stairs to a court holding cell in a bid to dodge waiting media.

The three were hauled to court through a side entrance and sat with their heads bowed as they waited for judges to arrive.

After the verdicts, lawyer Rifan Mohamad - who also represented condemned ringleaders Chan and Sukumaran - said the trial had been unfair.

He said the court had wrongly placed Norman, Chen and Nguyen in the same category as four couriers caught with heroin strapped to their bodies at Bali airport.

Unlike them, the three were arrested together at Kuta Beach's Melasti Hotel with a small amount of heroin powder, weighing scales and packing material.

"It's not justice," Rifan said.

"The judge generalised on all three while all had different roles.

"I'm very disappointed because the judge didn't consider this."

Rifan said all five of his clients, including Chan and Sukumaran, would appeal within the next week and said he was confident the Bali High Court would reduce the sentences provided there was no political interference or pressure.

But Wirawan Adnan - one of Indonesia's most experienced defence lawyers and the counsel for convicted mule Martin Stephens - believes all nine Australians face an uphill battle on appeals or separate requests for clemency from the Indonesian president.

He said it was now up to Canberra to get involved and for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Prime Minister John Howard to exploit warming relations with Jakarta.

"If there is any hope, it's because of Australian-Indonesian ties," he told AAP.

"Other than that, I see the chances of a successful appeal as very slim."

However, Mr Howard downplayed expectations that his friendship with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - a tough anti-drugs campaigner - could help the Bali Nine.

Anggia Browne, the lawyer for lone female among the group Renae Lawrence, said she did not want political help.

"That would be interference and would make things complicated," she warned.

Norman's mother Davies, who is considering moving to Bali, said her son was as well as could be expected and refused to wade into what could yet turn into a diplomatic row between Indonesia and Australia as Canberra voices opposition to the death penalty.

She would visit him in prison and tell him to "keep your chin up and the family is with you 100 per cent", she said.

  • Bali 9 Case Information

  • Some of Bali 9 'could serve only 10yrs'
    By Robyn Grace - February 15, 2006

    SOME of the Bali Nine could have their life prison sentences reduced to as little as 10 years, according to a convicted Australian drug dealer.

    But Chris Parnell, who spent five months on death row in an Indonesian prison, believes there is little hope for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who face the firing squad for their role in masterminding a heroin smuggling ring.

    "Where there's life, there's hope," the former prisoner told Macquarie Regional Radioworks today.

    "During the 11 years that I was in prison I saw a lot of people get life imprisonment and some were walking out in nine years, 10 years.

    "(But) from what I gather, there's a good chance that the boys will get executed."

    He said heroin had become a big problem in Indonesia and its government was cracking down on the drug.

    "In June when I was there every day there were people overdosing and dying from the heroin," he said.

    "Indonesia has to stomp down hard on it. They don't have a choice."

    Drug couriers Renae Lawrence, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Michael Czugaj have received life sentences after being arrested at Bali airport with heroin strapped to their bodies in April last year.

    The remaining mules, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman, will be sentenced today.

    Mr Parnell served 11 years in five Indonesian prisons for importing marijuana, a crime he maintains he never committed.

    "The Indonesian judicial system is not something that's as regular as the weather in any way," he said.

    "The guys that are given life, in five years that life sentence will get commuted to 20 years, and once you get commuted to 20 years they can expect to serve 10 years of that 20 years, depending on how much effort they put in."

    Mr Parnell said prisoners who learnt Indonesian could expect to shave two years off their sentences. Teaching English was also rewarded.

  • Bali 9 Case Information

  • Clemency pleas likely to fail, experts say

    Michael Czugaj (left) and Martin Stephens talk to their mothers, Vicki Czugaj and Michelle Stephens, before sentencing yesterday.
    Photo: Glenn Campbell
    By Fergus Shiel February 15, 2006

    CALLS for clemency by condemned Bali nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are unlikely to sway Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, legal experts warn.

    Chan and Sukumaran were yesterday condemned to death by firing squad for trying to smuggle heroin from Indonesia to Australia. It was the first time the Denpasar District Court had handed down death sentences for drug trafficking.

    Drug mules Michael Czugaj and Martin Stephens were sentenced to life imprisonment, just as their co-accused Renae Lawrence and Scott Rush had been a day before.

    Indonesian law expert Tim Lindsey told The Age that the convicted drug couriers could seek the President's clemency if appeals to the High Court in Bali and the Supreme Court in Jakarta were unsuccessful.

    But Professor Lindsey said they would need to admit guilt before seeking clemency and their chances of convincing the President to pardon them appeared slim.

    Speaking in Indonesia, Professor Lindsey said: "President Yudhoyono has said several times that he would not use his powers to assist drug dealers.

    "Although that's not necessarily conclusive, there would need to be a very strong case for the President to seek to reduce a sentence of death to a life sentence.

    "The fate of the Bali Nine is not seen as significant in a country that's going through a major drugs crackdown that has led to the arrest of thousands."

    Professor Lindsey, director of the Asian Law Centre at Melbourne University, said it could take the convicted drug couriers up to three years to exhaust their appeal options.

    Australian man Christopher Parnell, who was sentenced in Bali to life for drugs in the early 1980s, ended up spending 11 years in jail before being granted a presidential pardon. He has always maintained his innocence.

    Donald Rothwell, a professor of international law at Sydney University, said that once an Indonesian court handed down a sentence of life it usually meant life, although the President could grant remissions.

    Professor Rothwell said prisoners sentenced to death in Indonesia typically were killed not long after their final appeal failed, allowing minimal time for diplomatic pressure to be applied to halt executions.

    Last week, President Yudhoyono announced that the execution of a convicted Brazilian cocaine smuggler, Marco Moreira, would proceed, despite an appeal for mercy by his nation's leader.

    A presidential decree sets out the system that awards remissions — normal, special and humanitarian remissions — to prisoners on August 17 (Indonesia's Independence Day) and on religious holidays such as Ramadan and Christmas.

    It is based on time already served — a one-month remission for those who have served six to 12 months of their sentence and up to six months off for those who have served six years.

    With MARK FORBES

  • Bali 9 Case Information

  • Renae's father fears the worst
    Thursday Feb 16 02:28 AEDT

    The father of convicted Bali Nine drug mule Renae Lawrence is concerned for his daughter's mental wellbeing after Indonesian judges yesterday jailed her for life.

    In an ominous warning ahead of possible death sentence verdicts for the two alleged ringleaders today, judges in the Denpasar District Court ignored prosecution demands that Lawrence get only a 20-year sentence as a reward for rolling over for police.

    "The [sentence] was unexpected," Bob Lawrence told the Nine Network's Today.

    "We and Renae were happy with the 20 years, but life? That it a bit hard to take for all of us, but Renae she just cried and cried."

    "She was pretty devastated."

    "The Balinese authorities and the Australian Federal Police promised they'd look after her. [It was] sort of a deal."

    Mr Lawrence told Today he was concerned about what Renae might do now and said he had sent word to several prison guards, asking them to keep an eye on her.

    Renae's lawyer Anggia Browne is also "worried" about her client who has harmed herself at least twice since her arrest last year.

    "We are surprised, she is surprised," Browne said of yesterday's sentencing decision. "She doesn't understand [why the sentence] went up."

    Browne said she believed the judges had decided on a harsher sentence than the one prosecutors had demanded because the families of the three other mules — Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Michael Czugaj — objected.

    "The other three complained about 20 years," she said, promising to appeal Lawrence's case.

    "It's not normal. Normally the sentence like that is two-thirds (what prosecutors asked)."

    Renae appeared to take news of her sentence impassively at first but then expressed shock.

    In a holding cell, the 28-year-old burst into tears and held her head in her hands. She silently smoked a cigarette as she waited for the long and stifling prison bus ride back to Kerobokan jail.

    Her father told Today he understood the judges wanting to protect other victims, the people that may have used some of the 8.3kg of heroin Renae attempted to bring into Australia last April.

    "But over here [in Bali] they're not thinking about the death threats against her family.

    "She did it more for her family. She didn't want to do it."

    However two sets of judges dismissed claims by Lawrence and Rush — who was also sentenced to life in prison yesterday — that they and others became drug mules only after their lives had been threatened by the gang's alleged bosses.

    "It's not proven there was force used in the crime," one judge said.

  • Bali 9 Case Information

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