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9 More Australians Face Indonesian Firing Squad

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, April 25, 2005
Indonesian cops seized nine young Australians on heroin smuggling charges this week after Australian drug police tipped them off about an alleged trafficking ring. The eight men and one woman, aged between 18 and 29 have been detained in Bali's Denpasar police headquarters, the notorious prison where Australian beauty student Shapelle Corby has been held since being arrested in October on marijuana charges.

The young Australians could all be executed by firing squad if convicted, though received minimal sympathy from Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Australian Federal police chief Mike Phelan, whose agency co-operated with Indonesia on the bust.

"Once the information is supplied to the Indonesians, it's a matter for the
Indonesians how they decide what action they take in their own country," he told ABC News, "If we don't cooperate with our local law enforcement in the region, we won't succeed in the fight against drugs."

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was equally unforgiving, telling the Courier Mail, "I have no sympathy at all for people who get involved in drug trafficking. It is completely wrong to do it.

The latest Indonesian busts came as Ms Corby's prosecutors announced they're prepared to accept a life sentence for the beauty student instead of death (on the grounds that she's been "polite' (The Age), as top Australian commentator Phillip Adams picked up on her plight to denounce the entire war on drugs.

"This wretched case highlights two important issues of politics and public policy. Both at their worst. First, the moral horror of capital punishment. Second, the endless moral panic driving drugs, a local and international issue," Mr Adams pointed out in his column in The Australian.

"Were drugs to be decriminalised in this country, we would regain something of our collective sanity. Were it to happen in the US, where this insane war against drugs was first declared, millions of kids, overwhelmingly African-American, could be decriminalised as well," he continued.

"Then a state such as California could stop spending more money on jails for its young than it does on funding new universities," he pointed out.