Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Bali Nine and Their Advisors

I'm shocked at the extra four death sentences for the Bali Nine. But I've been shocked for a long time. Ever since they appealed their original verdicts, in fact. Seven of them hit the jackpot in the original trial and avoided a firing squad. FOR HEROIN TRAFFICKING in INDONESIA! These were lucky, lucky people. Surely the defence lawyers had to be telling them that.

But it's worse than that. A life sentence in Indonesia is routinely reduced to a 15-year sentence after five years of good behaviour. As a result with typical remissions a life sentence probably translates to maybe 15 years in total with the possibility that at any time the President might have a sudden attack of generosity and let them out even earlier. So not only had these lucky people avoided a firing squad but their sentences were nowhere near as bad as they sounded and a successful appeal was unlikely to reduce them in practice by more than two to three years.

So an appeal was so stupid it almost qualifies as suicide.

Which raises the question: were the defence lawyers telling them that? Or did the lawyers recommend the option that would lead to a continuing supply of Australian taxpayer dollars through a succession of further appeals and reviews?

And what were Australian embassy staff telling them? I cannot believe these people would have risked their lives for so little if they had been kept properly informed.

I dunno. Maybe they did get good advice. Maybe they really were that dumb. But I can't quite believe that. But then, I’m not the kind of person to go waltzing around an Indonesian airport with heroin strapped to my legs, either.


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