Indonesia Upholds Death in Drug Cases
By PETER GELLING
Published: October 31, 2007
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 30 — The Constitutional Court of Indonesia upheld the death penalty for serious drug offenses on Tuesday, dimming hopes of a reprieve for three Australians facing execution for trying to smuggle heroin off the resort island of Bali.
Lawyers for the three men, members of a group of Australians convicted of drug offenses who have become known as the Bali Nine, had hoped a successful constitutional challenge would add weight to their final appeal to the Supreme Court. Should that appeal fail, their last avenue would be a direct plea to Indonesia’s president.
The Constitutional Court ruled 6 to 3 that a 2000 constitutional amendment upholding the right to life did not apply to capital punishment. The court added that the right to life had to be balanced against the rights of the victims of drug trafficking.
“The request by the applicant is rejected,” said the chief judge, Jimly Assidiqqie.
Lawyers representing the three Australians, along with two Indonesians also facing capital punishment for drug offenses, filed the challenge with the Constitutional Court last January. Three more of the so-called Bali Nine on death row here had hoped that a constitutional ruling might lead to a review of their cases.
The last three of the nine are serving 20 years to life for their involvement in the smuggling ring.
The nine Australian men were arrested in 2005 for trying to smuggle 18 pounds of heroin out of Bali. They ranged in age from 18 to 28 at the time.
The death penalty is not an uncommon punishment for drug trafficking in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. At the beginning of this year 134 people, including 34 foreigners, were on death row in Indonesia, a vast majority for drug-related crimes, according to government statistics. In 2004 two Thai citizens were executed in Indonesia on drug charges.
The Australian government, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, has usually pleaded for clemency for citizens facing execution abroad.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/w...Subjects/D/Drug Abuse and Traffic&oref=slogin