AU Federal Police Defend Role in Bali Nine Arrests

Facing mounting criticism for helping Indonesia execute Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police held a press conference today to discuss the AFP's role in the arrest of the Bali Nine. [More....]

The Bali Nine were bringing drugs from Bali to Australia (not bringing drugs into Bali.) Before the nine left for Australia, the father of Scott Rush, one of those arrested and serving life, figured out what his son was going to do. He called his lawyer, Bob Myers. Myers called the AFP, hoping they would stop the group before leaving for Bali. Instead, the AFP alerted the Indonesian police and let the group leave Australia. Myers say the AFP effectively signed their death warrants. He says Rush's father received assurances from the AFP that they would tell his son he was under surveillance to dissuade him from going through with the crime. He says AFP never contacted Rush, and instead, alerted Indonesia.

At the press conference today, the Commissioner denied that police made any assurances to Scott Rush or his lawyer that the group would be arrested before leaving for Bali. He also said none of the information from Scott Rush's father was passed on, and had they never had the information from him, the result would have been the same. But he also admitted the AFP knew what the result might be:

We made the decision to request Indonesian surveillance in full knowledge that we could be exposing people to the death penalty.

He said he doesn't believe the AFP owes an apology to the families of the Bali Nine. He also said:

I wish I could assure you that this scenario could not happen again, but I cannot.

Commissioner Colman said the AFP didn't have enough information to stop the group from leaving. But Rush's lawyer says AFP Paul Hunniford, the senior liaison officer in Bali at the time, sent a letter to Indonesian police providing them with the Bali Nine members' names, passport numbers, and details of what they were planning. Although it may not have been all 9 names, for example, the AFP may not have known Myuran's identity. (see below for more on this.)

The AFP first admitted in August, 2005 that they gave the Indonesians the information that led to the Bali Nine's arrest. Two of the Bali Nine, Scott Rush and Renee Lawrence, then filed a lawsuit against the AFP, but a judge ruled in its favor.

[In October, 2005]Scott Rush and Renae Lawrence commence court action against the AFP, alleging the service was wrong to pass on information to Indonesia that led to their arrests.

Their lawyers tell the Federal Court in Darwin that actions by the AFP breached a bilateral treaty that dictates such information can only be released by the attorney-general. But the government says the treaty provision only applies after a suspect is charged.

Myers says:

Federal police imported the death penalty into Australia when they arranged for the Bali Nine to be arrested in Indonesia, the barrister who tipped them off says.

Bob Myers says Australian Federal Police had all the evidence they needed to arrest the nine before they left Australia on a heroin smuggling mission. Instead, the AFP let them travel to Bali and then told Indonesian police about the crime they were about to commit, Mr Myers says.

Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are now dead because the AFP betrayed their obligation not to expose Australians to the death penalty, he says. 'They effectively imported the death penalty into Australian law by acting they way they did,' Mr Myers told ABC radio on Monday.

Myers says it was AFP Paul Hunniford, the senior liaison officer in Bali at the time, who sealed their death sentences. Myers met with Hunniford in Bali after the arrests, and Hunniford told him it was "virtually inevitable that one or more of them was going to die". It was Hunniford who sent a written letter to Indonesia police with all the details of the Bali Nine so an arrest could be made:

It was Mr Hunniford who wrote to Indonesia police to provide the Bali Nine's names, passport numbers, and details of what they were planning.

'If there is a suspicion that ... the couriers are carrying the illegal narcotics at the time of their departure, please take whatever action that you consider necessary,' the letter said.

Here are 9 questions that the Australian media is asking about the AFP's role.

Among the unanswered questions:
Could allowing the group to return to Australia have enabled the AFP to identify the leaders of the drug ring? Ten years after the Bali Nine smuggling operation, none of the masterminds of the operation has been prosecuted. Had the AFP waited for the smugglers to return, they may have led police to their leaders.

To what extent was the AFP's approach to the Bali nine case influenced by a desire to promote Indonesian police co-operation on other issues, such as counter-terrorism? Did the AFP sacrifice the Australian drug smugglers to win the co-operation of its Indonesian colleagues for its work in other areas?

In related news today, another member of the group, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, who is serving a life sentence in Indonesia, wrote that Myuran had time to leave Indonesia before his arrest, but didn't, because he insisted on trying to make sure two other members of the group, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman, who were at a hotel, were safe. He moved them to another hotel (where they were still arrested.)

"Myu didn't pack up and left the country. No. He went back to the hotel where the other two were waiting. Moved them somewhere else, and telling them the most important thing at the moment was getting them out of the country safely. Calming them down and be aware [sic] what's happening."

...Of all the Bali nine, Sukumaran had the best chance of escaping after their operation had been compromised. He had been under surveillance by the Indonesian authorities but they did not know his name. He was known only to Indonesian police as "the black one" or "the n*gro".

Nyoman Gatra, an Indonesian police intelligence officer who led a surveillance operation after the tip-off from the AFP, told the Denpasar District Court in 2005 that Sukumaran had not been listed on an AFP alert letter sent on April 8 about a week before the Bali nine were arrested.
"At first I thought he was a bodyguard," he said at the time."

Sukumaran, Nguyen, Chen and Norman were arrested the night of May 17, 2005, at the Melasti Beach Bungalows in Bali. Myuran was outside the hotel room standing guard, when police stormed it and pushed him inside. Police found 334 grams of heroin in the room. Andrew Chan was arrested at the airport later that night, about to board a plane back to Australia. He had no drugs on him.

If the concern of the police is to stop drug shipments, all the AFP had to do was tell Rush it would be notifying Indonesia of its suspicions. Had it done so, the group surely would have canceled its planned trip. The AFP and Indonesian police might have had one less bust to brag about, but its ultimate goal would have been realized. Not to mention, two people would still be alive, and 7 others would not be serving life or 20 year sentences in a foreign hellhole of a prison.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Oughta boycott Australia, too (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by scribe on Sun May 03, 2015 at 09:18:01 PM EST

    So the Father Who Turned them In... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 04, 2015 at 08:39:45 AM EST
    ...is blaming the police for not handling the case the way he would have preferred ?

    Seems like if he wants to sue someone he should sue himself for providing the information that started the entire chain of events that lead to his son's death.

    But I would agree with the statement about Australia importing the death penalty.  They can't be against it and then help people who are surely going to administer it.

    I would have to agree with scribe, in that they are at as much fault as the Indonesians and should be boycotted as well.  How many Australians have suffered because of cooperation with Indonesia, any protest they are making are hypocritical to say the least.  They were compliant in ensuring the death of their own citizens.

    We would also have to (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Zorba on Mon May 04, 2015 at 08:45:03 AM EST
    Boycott ourselves, Scott.  We have the death penalty, at least many of our states do, and the Feds still have the death penalty.
    And as we have seen from some recent cases, the way the death penalty is administered in this country is also cruel.

    Canada Too... (none / 0) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 04, 2015 at 10:06:22 AM EST
    ...as, and I want to say they sent us a serial killer knowing we would execute him.  Can't remember the name, but he was part of team that killed women, and was caught shoplifting in Canada.

    We went back and forth with Canada for extradition, they refused unless we pulled the DP off the table.  We called their bluff and said fine, you keep him.  When Canada realized that they all they had him for was shoplifting, they extradited him.

    Found it, Charles Ng, and he is still on death row in California.

    I have no plans on boycotting any country or my own state because of the DP.  I was simply agreeing that if you are going to boycott one the other should follow.  I should note that there is a pretty big distinction to me for DP of certain violent crimes(capital) and non-violent ones.  But I am not down with the DP in any way, but there is a difference is how it's applied.

    I am not boycotting anyone for the DP, which in this case would be an easy option in that when I make it to that side area of the world, New Zealand would be my destination.  So consider me boycotting Indonesia, Australia, and about 100 other countries I will never visit.

    And if we are going down this road, I would think countries that engage in provoked wars should be on the list as they account for far more innocent lives than any DP state, but that is an entirely different issue. But at some point you realize that boycotting states over cruel treatment of human beings would leave you commerce-less in a global economy.  And that is just plain depressing.


    Make That Unprovoked Wars (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 04, 2015 at 10:16:08 AM EST
    What a bunch! (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by lentinel on Mon May 04, 2015 at 03:01:50 PM EST
    "Before the nine left for Australia, the father of Scott Rush, one of those arrested and serving life, figured out what his son was going to do. He called his lawyer, Bob Myers. Myers called the AFP."

    and the rest is history.

    What kind of attorney is Bob Myers?
    After receiving what I would assume is a confidence from a client, he calls the coppers?

    Bali and Australia... both of them can go to blazes...

    But there might be room in the fiery furnace for attorney Myers.