from The Guardian

Julie Bishop- “The Angry Ant” way out of her depth

Julie Bishop has called on Indonesia not to execute two Australian men on death row before the courts have considered a fresh appeal by their legal team.

But the foreign affairs minister refrained from commenting directly on the “very serious” claims, made by Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s legal team, that six judges who sentenced them to death offered to give a lighter penalty in exchange for a bribe.

Fairfax Media reported that the claim was outlined in a letter to Indonesia’s judicial committee alleging a breach of ethics, and the legal team had also written to the attorney general, HM Prasetyo, highlighting an outstanding legal challenge in the administrative court.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warns Indonesia not to execute two Australians for drug offences committed 10 years ago

Asked if she had faith in the Indonesian legal system, Bishop said: “These are very serious allegations and I understand that the lawyers for Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan will continue to raise these matters.

“There is an appeal process still under way and I urge the Indonesian authorities to allow that appeal process to proceed and to not take any action that would prevent that appeal process from progressing. Of course I have to respect the Indonesian legal system – it’s an independent sovereign nation; it has its own judicial system.”

Bishop told the ABC she understood Indonesia’s tough line on drug trafficking “but my point is that no good purpose will be served by executing two Australian citizens who have been rehabilitated and who are repaying their debt to society”.

“Our message is that a decade on from their crime, these men are remorseful; they’ve been rehabilitated,” she said of Chan and Sukumaran, who were sentenced to death over a drug smuggling plot by a group that became known as the Bali Nine.

“And this will be a great injustice, indeed a wasted opportunity for Indonesia because they will be able to demonstrate how successful their prisons system can be in rehabilitating drug traffickers.”


Bishop said a meeting with officials scheduled on Monday would be “another opportunity for us to press our case” but the government was also continuing to advocate at the highest levels.

Asked if she had considered making a mercy dash to Indonesia to plead for their lives, Bishop said: “Of course I’ve considered that many times but I am informed and advised by our experts in this area that this would in fact be seen as counterproductive, that what we must do is to continue to press behind the scenes, we must make representations to those who can make a difference, those who can make the decision.

“I have to take the advice of our very experienced consular officials, those who have been involved in these sorts of cases before, and I’m told that if I flew to Jakarta at this time it could potentially be counterproductive and could precipitate an unfavourable outcome.”

Bishop said it was important to keep open the lines of communication. She repeated a theme the Australian government has pursued over the last few days highlighting Indonesia’s representations for its own citizens abroad who face the death penalty.

“Australia opposes the death penalty at home and abroad,” Bishop said.

“I would be more than happy to work with the Indonesian government to oppose the death penalty around the world and if Indonesia opposes the death penalty for their citizens in the Middle East for example then I am more than happy to support their pleas.

“Likewise I would hope that the Indonesian government would show the same mercy to Australian citizens as they are demanding that other nations show their citizens.”

The social services minister, Scott Morrison, said: “I commend the prime minister and the foreign minister, the opposition and all political parties for the unity of purpose we have had on this.”