Tuesday Sep 20 20:09 AEST
Prosecutors in Bali have asked for advice from Indonesia's top legal figure
after encountering problems with plans to send nine Australians to the
firing squad for drug crimes, a defence lawyer said.
A team of six provincial prosecutors for the so-called Bali Nine have sent
a letter to Attorney-General Abdul Rachman Saleh in Jakarta asking for a
second opinion on plans to seek death sentences for heroin trafficking.
"They are still seeking advice," defence lawyer Mohammad Rifan, who is
representing alleged gang leaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, told AAP.
"It is unclear if they are just unprepared or wanting things to go as
perfectly as possible."
Rifan said prosecution files on the nine had been completed a month ago,
but the prosecutor's office had now failed to hand it to the court to set a
trial date three times.
The prosecution team was divided over whether they could successfully argue
for death sentences using tough Indonesian drug laws, he said.
"The facts and the evidence are difficult to prove, and some prosecutors
don't want to look silly," Rifan said.
The nine Australians were arrested during a series of police raids mounted
after an Australian Federal Police tipoff in April.
Prosecutors several weeks ago said they would seek the death penalty for
all of them, leading to criticism of the AFP for having alerted Indonesian
police to a crime which could see them face the firing squad.
Four of them, Newcastle woman Renae Lawrence, Wollongong man Martin
Stephens and Brisbane men Michael Czugaj and Scott Rush, were detained at
Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport with blocks of heroin weighing between 1.3kg and
2.9kg allegedly strapped to their bodies.
Accused gang enforcer Andrew Chan was hauled off an Australian Airlines
flight to Sydney which the other four were waiting to board.
Four others including so-called gang mastermind Myuran Sukumaran, Matthew
Norman, Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen and Si Yi Chen, were taken into custody at
the Melasti Hotel in Kuta.
A series of seven trials for the group are expected to begin within weeks
in the Denpasar District Court.
Defence lawyers are hoping the group will be charged with possession,
carrying a 10-year jail term.
Rifan said prosecutors had been due to hand over files on Monday last week,
but then postponed until Friday and again on Monday this week.
"They are waiting for suggestions from the attorney general," he said.