Headlines

Bali Nine death row inmate
loses final appeal

Andrew Chan, an Australian national convicted of an attempted drug smuggling case, and the ringleader of the so-called Bali Nine, has lost his final appeal against the death penalty following a Supreme Court ruling.

Chan’s lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, confirmed that the May 11 ruling upheld the sentence. He said he had not further studied the ruling, which was posted on the court’s website Friday, to understand the legal grounds.

“We have just found out that Chan’s appeal was overruled by the Supreme Court,” Todung told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“We’re very disappointed with the ruling because our client does not deserve the death sentence. He has admitted his guilt, expressed remorse and has improved himself during his time in prison.”

Chan, who is incarcerated in Kerobokan penitentiary in Denpasar, appealed to get his death penalty commuted to a 20-year prison sentence.

Chan was among nine Australians who attempted to smuggle 8 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005.

One of them, Martin Eric Stephen, who is also imprisoned at Kerobokan, married Indonesian national Christine Puspayanti in April.Todung said Chan should have been given a second chance to be rehabilitated.

“I am sure that if he was given a second chance, he could be a better person and would spend the rest of his jail time behaving well,” Todung added.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, Chan’s final option would be to seek clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

However, Todung has not confirmed his client would appeal for clemency, saying the legal team had to study the judges’ considerations for rejecting the appeal before deciding on their next step.

It remains unclear whether judges have ruled on the appeal of fellow ringleader Myuran Sukumaran, as his appeal is being heard by a different panel of judges. However the ruling against Chan may hint at an uphill battle for Sukumaran to escape death row.

Chan and Sukumaran filed joint appeals last year, using the same argument that they were now rehabilitated, had professed their guilt and apologized, and were actively engaged in church services, as well as conducting computer and English courses for fellow inmates at Kerobokan.

“When I was first arrested in 2005, I stupidly thought I knew everything and in my previous trials, on the advice of my old lawyers, I pleaded my innocence,” Chan said at his hearing in Denpasar last September.

“I stupidly thought I could walk out of here despite the crime I committed. However, I now know much better and it feels good to be able to speak the truth, to apologize.”

Chan said he was studying for a bachelor’s degree in theology and seeking a minister’s certificate “to give me the experience and qualifications to work with young people, especially those with drug and alcohol problems”.

The Denpasar District Court, in its report to the Supreme Court, had recommended the death sentence be commuted for both men.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia strongly opposed the death penalty and would try to have Chan’s sentence commuted.

Last month, another Bali Nine member, Scott Anthony Rush, won his appeal against his death penalty after the Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life, citing the fact that 25-year-old Rush had shown remorse for his actions while also taking into account his age.

The six other gang members are serving lengthy prison sentences.

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