Si Yi Chen
Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen
|Lawrence: 20 years in prison
Chen, Czugaj, Nguyen, Norman, Rush and Stephens: Life imprisonment
Chan, Sukumaran: death
|All in custody|
The Bali Nine is the name given to a group of nine Australians arrested on 17 April 2005, in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, in a plan to smuggle 8.3 kg (18 lb) of heroin valued at approximately A$4 million from Indonesia to Australia. Andrew Chan, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Myuran Sukumaran, all aged between 18 and 28 at the time of their arrests, faced the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
On 13 February 2006, Lawrence and Rush, the first of the nine to face sentencing, were sentenced to life imprisonment. The following day, Czugaj and Stephens were sentenced to life imprisonment, and the group ringleaders, Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death via firing squad; the first ever death sentences imposed by the Denpasar District Court. The remaining three, Norman, Chen and Nguyen were all sentenced to life imprisonment on 15 February 2006. On 26 April 2006, Lawrence, Nguyen, Chen, and Norman had their sentences reduced to 20-year sentences on appeal, while the life sentences for Czugaj and Stephens were upheld. Prosecutors launched appeals against the reductions in sentences.
On 6 September 2006, it was revealed that as a result of appeals brought by prosecutors and heard by the Supreme Court, Scott Rush, Tan Duc Than Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman had the death penalty reimposed. The new death sentences were unexpected. Prosecutors, in their appeals against the 20-year terms faced by most of the nine, had only called for them to be upgraded to life imprisonment. Michael Czugaj's life sentence, after being reduced to 20 years on appeal, was reinstated. Martin Stephens' life sentence was upheld on appeal as were Sukumaran's and Chan's death sentence. Renae Lawrence had not lodged a further appeal to her 20-year sentence, so her sentence was not rejudged.
On 6 March 2008, it was revealed that three of the four Bali 9 (Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen) who were issued death sentences on appeal had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment. The reduction has not been officially announced but court sources have confirmed that the judges have decided to spare their lives. In August 2010, Scott Rush launched his final appeal to overturn the death penalty, and was granted a judicial review, which commenced on 18 August 2010. On 10 May 2011, Rush's appeal was successful as his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. On 21 September 2010, the leaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran appealed against their pending death-row sentence and to reduce their jail time to 20 years, instead of the previous life sentence. On 17 June 2011, it was announced that Chan's final judicial appeal was rejected on 10 May. On 7 July 2011 it was announced that Sukumaran's final judicial appeal was dismissed. Unless granted clemency by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose policy already rules out any leniency to those sentenced to death for drug trafficking, Sukumaran and Chan are expected to face execution. Sukumaran and Chan are currently in Kerobokan Prison awaiting execution by firing squad.
|Part of the series on
Police were unclear how the two groups from Sydney and Brisbane were linked, but did establish the movements of members of the group before their departure for Indonesia. Several of the Bali Nine were employed by Eurest Australia, a multinational catering company of over 9,000 employees. Matthew Norman, Renae Lawrence, Martin Stephens, and Andrew Chan, a supervisor with the company, all worked for Eurest who provided hospitality services to the Sydney Cricket Ground where the group were employed. Rush and Czugaj claim they were recruited by fellow defendant and suspected financier of the smuggling plan, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, while socialising at a karaoke bar in Brisbane.
Rush had met Nguyen six months earlier whilst fishing. Rush travelled to Sydney with Nguyen to attend a 21st birthday party where he was introduced to Sukumaran, who called himself "Mark". Nguyen offered them free trips to Bali. Several days later Rush returned to Sydney with friend Michael Czugaj where plans for the pair's travel to Indonesia was organised. Rush and Czugaj had never travelled abroad. Lawrence had travelled to Bali on three occasions, first arriving on 16 October 2004, then again on 5 December 2004 and 6 April 2005. Matthew Norman on 5 December 2004, 19 January 2005 and 6 April 2005; Myuran Sukumaran on 4 October 2004 and 8 April 2005; Andrew Chan on 16 October 2004 and 6 April 2005 and Thac Duc Thanh Nguyen on 5 December 2004 and 8 April 2005. Chen, Stephens, Czugaj and Rush were on their first trip abroad when arrested on 17 April 2005.
The Australian Federal Police concluded that Sukumaran, Chan, Lawrence and Norman were part of a larger syndicate that successfully imported a commercial quantity of heroin into Australia from Indonesia on 23 October 2004. Other members of the syndicate were arrested in 14 federal police raids in Sydney and Brisbane on the same day in early May 2005.
Arrests in Indonesia
Lawrence and Stephens arrived in Indonesia on 6 April, followed by close school friends from Brisbane, Rush and Czugaj, arriving two days later on 8 April. The group were introduced at a hotel where Chan and Sukumaran were staying, having arrived earlier in Bali. The group was highly organised by Chan and Sukumaran who split the group apart. Some of the Bali 9 did not even meet each other until they were arrested. In the book One-Way Ticket – The Untold Story of the Bali 9, Cindy Wockner and Madonna King write, "Indeed, both trips had been plotted, and re-plotted, the operation schemed to the nth degree. Every I had been dotted, every T crossed. And then checked. And re-checked." In reference to a previous trip to Bali, the book says, "this new trip had to be different: it would run like clockwork."
Chan and Sukumaran handed out SIM cards, to stay in contact. During their stay police noted the group would spend a large amount of time indoors in their hotel rooms, although Rush and Czugaj did make the most of their time in Bali and went shopping, eating, drinking and played water sports. The group met again on 16 April for what police allege was a final briefing, before meeting for their final time at the airport before their 17 April arrest. After receiving information from the Australian Federal Police about the group, including the names, passport numbers and information relating to their links to possible illegal drug trade, Indonesian police placed the group under constant surveillance for a week before their arrest. Indonesian police believe heroin was supplied to Chan by 22-year-old Thai woman Cherry Likit Bannakorn, who is wanted by Interpol.
Likit was believed to have left Bali on 18 April 2005, one day after the arrests of the nine Australians, and was briefly detained at the Thai-Malaysian border (until Indonesian police arrived), however, was released when paperwork was not in order for her to be extradited back to Indonesia. Head of the surveillance team, I Nyoman Gatra, later testified in court during trials for the accused that police were initially unaware Sukumaran was part of the group as original information obtained from the AFP did not mention him by name. Indonesian police assumed Sukumaran was Chan's bodyguard as he was seen to accompany Chan in Bali.  Four of the nine, Czugaj and Rush (both friends from Brisbane), and Stephens and Lawrence (workplace acquaintances from New South Wales), were arrested at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport as they prepared to board an Australia-bound flight.
All were carrying quantities of heroin in plastic bags strapped to their bodies. Between them they were carrying more than 8.3 kilograms (18 lb) of heroin. On the same evening, Chan was removed from a commercial flight about to depart Ngurah Rai Airport for Australia. Chan had several mobile phones in his possession, but was carrying no drugs when arrested. He was believed to be the person responsible for collecting the heroin from the couriers upon their arrival in Australia.  Four others, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Myuran Sukumaran, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman, were arrested at the 'Melasti Beach Bungalows' near Kuta Beach in possession of 350 grams (12 oz) of heroin and strapping equipment.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2011)|
Indonesian law does not require that arrested people be immediately charged with an offence, and by 22 April 2005 no charges had been laid. Police indicated that the five arrested at the airport would be charged with drug trafficking, which carries the death penalty, while those arrested in the hotel would be charged with the lesser offence of drug possession, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment. By 26 April 2005, media speculation suggested that Andrew Chan recruited the other eight to act as drug mules – couriers who would not arouse suspicion while carrying heroin to Australia – and offered them A$10,000 to A$15,000 each to carry out this task, although some reports claim that they were only going to get A$5000.
On 27 April 2005, Colonel Bambang Sugiarto, head of the Bali police drug squad, said police would seek to have all nine charged with offenses which carry the death penalty. He revealed that several of the nine had previously visited Bali using false passports, suggesting that they had acted as drug couriers before. Indonesian police released video evidence showing heroin being removed from the bodies of the four arrested at the airport. Indonesian police initially maintained that Chan was the "mastermind" of the importation plan. "They were following Chan's instructions and if they didn't follow the instructions their families would be killed," Sugiarto said.
Australian police said that they believed that an Australian drug syndicate was behind the plan. Mike Phelan, International Operations Chief of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), said, "This is obviously some sort of sophisticated syndicate. In excess of 10 kg of heroin is a large amount and by definition it requires a distribution network here in Australia." Lawyers in Indonesia engaged by the families of those arrested appeared in media interviews to concede that the four arrested at the airport were acting as drug couriers. Anggia Browne was quoted as saying, "They are only couriers – they did it just for money." She said they were from low-income families, and did not know that drug trafficking in Indonesia carries the death penalty. Investigations closed in August 2005 and briefs handed prosecutors in Denpasar ready for trial.
Reactions in Australia
Parents of defendants Scott Rush and Renae Lawrence criticised the Australian Federal Police for allowing the Indonesian police to arrest the nine, rather than allowing them to fly to Australia and arresting them in Sydney upon their return.
On 24 April 2005, Keelty said the AFP would hand over all evidence they had obtained against the Bali Nine:
- "The policy is that we will not give evidence that will, or information that will, directly cause or result in somebody receiving the death penalty, but the reality is in this case, it would appear, on the allegation, that these people have been caught red-handed with heroin in Indonesia."
Lawrence's father, Bob Lawrence, said in October 2005 he wanted to meet AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty face to face after learning of the comments made by Lee Rush:
- "As far as I'm concerned, and excuse the expression, [Keelty] is an arsehole. These kids were forced into this … they should have been either arrested at the airport here or followed to get the big guys. I don't know how they can sleep at night … even if [the Bali Nine] were guilty of doing it willingly, it still doesn't deserve the death penalty."
During February 2006, Rush's parents gave an interview to Australian Broadcasting Commission television program Australian Story, speaking out against Australian Federal Police actions. Rush's father Lee Rush was quoted as saying:
- "I was informed at 1.30 in the morning that Scott would be spoken to and asked not to board the flight to Bali. It wasn't until about mid-morning that I received a call from Bob (Rush's lawyer) and a distressed tone in his voice he said 'Mate, we could not stop him, they have let him go through and he's on his way to Bali.' Under no circumstances do I condone the trafficking of drugs – I particularly dislike drugs of any nature, always have. When I received a call from the Australian Government authorities that Scott had been detained in Indonesia for attempting to export heroin, I was speechless, sickened to the gut."
Rush's mother, Christine Rush, spoke of her disappointment with the Australian Federal Police:
- "I feel very let down by our Australian Federal Police – we tried to lawfully stop our son leaving the country, it wasn't done." "The Federal Police can do, go wherever they want, do anything, anytime without supervision from the Australian Attorney-General or from the Justice Minister." "This is not good for Australians and our laws need to be changed to protect our citizens and this must not happen to any Australian citizen again."
In an interview aired on the same episode of Australian Story, Mike Phelan, of the Australian Federal Police, responding to the Rush family's criticisms, said:
- "Even with the aid of hindsight, should the same set of circumstances present themselves again with another syndicate or other people, we would do exactly the same thing", and that "there have also been a large number of young lives on the other side of the ledger that have been saved as a result of the AFP's operations over many years."
Keelty went on to state that "if someone went back to Lee Rush and assured him that Scott would not be able to travel then that is their call," he said.
- "We would never have given any assurance, because there was no lawful reason to prevent him from travelling. My sympathy is with Lee Rush because somebody has misled him. Whoever gave Lee Rush the assurance that his son would be prevented from travelling acted dishonourably. There is no way anyone in the AFP would have provided that assurance because there was simply no power to detain him. He was not wanted on warrants, there were no conditions of his bail that prevented him from travelling overseas."
- "What we have are serious allegations as to criminal activity which allegedly occurred on Indonesian soil and the Indonesian police acted accordingly. We would expect the same of Australian police if the situation was reversed."
Philip Ruddock was quoted as saying:
- "We will not provide co-operation in relation to criminal matters unless there is an assurance that a death penalty will not be sought. If there was further information that had to be obtained from here through the Australian Federal Police, we would seek an assurance that Indonesia would not be wanting a death penalty in each of those cases."
Scott Rush, Renae Lawrence, Martin Stephens and Michael Czugaj initiated legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the Australian Federal Police, arguing they had acted illegally by tipping off Indonesian police with information leading to the arrests in Bali and knowingly exposing them to the death penalty. Federal Court judges dismissed the claims in January 2006. In March 2006, Martine Griffiths of Network Ten was awarded Melbourne Press Club's 2005 Gold Quill Award for her coverage of the arrests of the Bali Nine.
Criminal trials for the accused commenced in the Denpasar District Court on 11 October 2005. Three of the four arrested at the Melasti Bungalows, Nguyen, Chen, and Norman, were tried together, with the remaining six defendants tried separately. All defendants faced a maximum penalty of death by firing squad if found guilty. The trials were often delayed due to the defendants complaining of illness, headaches and nausea. The Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the Australian government would oppose any death sentences imposed, saying:
- "We have a long-standing opposition to the death penalty and it's well known that if a death penalty is imposed on an Australian we ask that that death penalty not be imposed."
On 6 December 2005, Australian lawyers Robert Richter, QC, and Brian Walters, QC, called for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to extradite the nine to Australia on heroin conspiracy related charges. On 7 December 2005, Denpasar District Court judge I Wayan Yasa Abadhi called for Australians not to interfere in the legal proceedings in Indonesia, saying:
- "Criticism from outside is expected, but Indonesian courts will only adhere to the laws applied in this country, and that includes the death penalty. The judges will not budge, we will not be affected by public opinion or the media."
Sukumaran remained mostly silent throughout proceedings and blamed amnesia for his poor recollections of events leading to his arrest. Trials were scheduled to be completed with verdicts announced before 23 February 2006, before a legal deadline for the group's detainment expired.
Lawrence claimed she received threats of harm against herself and her family if she did not proceed with the plan to import heroin into Australia. Lawrence gave evidence in the Denpasar District Court she was ordered to book a flight to Bali. She claimed she did not know why she was ordered to travel. Work associate Stephens claims he was also threatened to travel to Bali by Chan, who showed Stephens photographs of his family going about their daily lives, and saying they would be killed if he did not co-operate, saying, "They threatened me. They threatened my family, my friends, my love – my girlfriend… They showed me pictures."
Indonesian judges found no evidence of threats, with Judge I Gusti Ngurah Astawa saying during the sentencing of Lawrence, "The council of judges found no proof of the use of force in this crime, therefore the defendant has to be sentenced as fairly as possible."
Rush further accused Chan of strapping the heroin to his body whilst wearing rubber gloves. Chan protested his innocence and defending his silence during his final plea, reading from a two-page statement:
- "I didn't say anything in court because if I did, I'd be lying. The truth is, I know nothing. A lot of lies have been said against me, but the true reality is I'm not what people put me out to be. I've never threatened anybody in my life. The outcome I wish, of course, and my family is that you find that you would release me, for I had nothing to participate in this."
In sentencing Lawrence, Indonesian judges found no evidence of Lawrence's claims her life was threatened. Although prosecutors requested a lighter 20 year sentence for Lawrence due to her early cooperation with police, judges sentenced her to life imprisonment. The next day, the remaining three defendants, Chen, Nguyen and Norman, were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 24 January 2006, prosecutors handed down demands for the death penalty for Sukumaran, the first time a demand of death was put forward by prosecutors for any of the Bali Nine. Prosecutors told a Bali court there was no reason to show any leniency to the 24-year-old because he helped organise the heroin smuggling operation. Prosecutors also claim Sukumaran strapped heroin to the bodies of the fellow accused. Indonesian police identified Sukumaran as one of the main players in what they say was a major smuggling ring. On 26 January, it was also recommended that Andrew Chan receive the death penalty.
On 14 February 2006, after learning of his fate, Sukumaran attacked photographers and threw water bottles at protesters and onlookers gathered outside the court building.
After news of the death penalty, John Howard was quoted as saying:
- "Can I just say to every young Australian, please take notice of this. I even beg them not to take the terrible risks that these young people have done – their lives destroyed in the case of two people. I feel desperately sorry for the parents of these people, I do ... but the warnings have been there for decades and how on earth any young Australian can be so stupid as to take the risk is completely beyond me."
The death sentences were criticized by Australians who compared them to the light sentence given to Indonesian Abu Bakar Bashir, the leader of the terrorist group which carried out the 2002 Bali bombings, killing over 200 people including 88 Australians. Both death sentences were received with resounding cheers from those present in the respective courtrooms at the time.
Summary of sentences
|Andrew Chan||Enfield, New South Wales||
|Si Yi Chen||Doonside, New South Wales||
|Michael Czugaj||Oxley, Queensland||
|Renae Lawrence||Newcastle, New South Wales||
|Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen||Brisbane, Queensland||
|Matthew Norman||Sydney, New South Wales||
|Scott Rush||Chelmer, Queensland||
|Martin Stephens||Towradgi, New South Wales||
|Myuran Sukumaran||Auburn, New South Wales|
There were several avenues of appeal available to the Bali Nine. Lawyers had seven days post-sentencing to lodge appeals. There is no time limit for those convicted to request clemency from the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, however this requires an admission of guilt and had never been granted for a drug crime until 2009. All appealed to overturn their sentence. Chen, Czugaj, Nguyen, Norman, and Stephens sentences stand at life imprisonment and Lawrence's sentence remains at 20 years after appeal. In May 2011, Rush's death sentence was reduced to life after he launched a final appeal in August 2010.} Chan and Sukumaran launched final appeals to have their death sentences reduced in August 2010. Chan lost his appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court on 10 May 2011 and Sukumaran's appeal was dismissed on 6 July 2011. Both are expected to be executed by firing squad. Some media reports have stated that appeals for clemency are unlikely to be successful. Through to early 2013 five foreign nationals had been executed in Indonesia since 1998, all for drug crimes.
On 27 April 2005, Indonesian police shot and killed Man Singh Ghale, a known major Indonesian drug trafficker believed to be directly connected to the Bali Nine. Ghale, of Nepali origin, was killed when police stormed his Jakarta home. Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty said Ghale was "directly linked" to the Bali Nine. Six men aged between 19 and 25 were arrested and released on bail in Brisbane on drug trafficking charges believed to be associated with the Bali Nine. On 12 February 2006, police arrested Do Hyung Lee, a 25-year-old of South Korean origin, at Brisbane Airport after arriving on a flight from South Korea. Lee was charged with drug trafficking and importation offences and appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 13 February 2006, the same day the first of the nine accused in Indonesia learned of their fate. Lee was bailed to reappear in court with the five others on 3 April 2006. Keelty told a Senate estimates committee hearing that more arrests were expected.
Details of the criminal histories of the accused were not published during the trial to avoid harming legal defences in Indonesia. Once the Denpasar District court reached guilty verdicts and issued sentences it was revealed in Australian media that several members of the Bali Nine have a history of criminal offences and convictions in Australia occurring before their arrests in Indonesia. In December 2004 Rush pleaded guilty at the Inala Magistrates' Court in Queensland to 16 offences including drug possession, fraud, theft and drink-driving. A warrant for his arrest in Australia is currently outstanding relating to A$4,796.95 stolen from the Commonwealth Bank using a forged cheque. Czugaj, also of Brisbane, has 14 convictions for offences including theft, wilful damage, traffic offences and fare evasion.
Lawrence and Norman were arrested on 26 March 2005, whilst travelling along the Pacific Highway in a stolen Ford Laser vehicle. Police were required to use road spikes to intercept the stolen vehicle. Both were due to appear in the Gosford Magistrates Court to face car theft and traffic related charges. On 26 April 2005, they failed to appear due to their imprisonment in Indonesia a week earlier on 17 April 2005. Lawrence also admitted, after her arrest in Indonesia on 17 April 2005, to two prior visits to Bali in October and November 2004. She and Chan had made an earlier successful run with heroin from Bali to Australia during their October visit. The second delivery, scheduled for December 2004 was aborted when heroin suppliers failed to deliver. Lawrence provided a statement to police saying she was paid A$10,000 for the successful heroin delivery, however later retracted her statement.
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