Australian police have defended their role in the arrests of the Bali nine drug smuggling group which led to the execution of its two leaders.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have faced criticism since the Bali Nine's arrests in 2005, after they aided Indonesian police in their investigation despite knowing that some of the gang could face the death penalty for drug trafficking.
The AFP passed information to Indonesian police which led to the group of Australians being arrested before they began their operation to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin to Australia.
Accusations that the AFP "shopped" the Australians to Indonesian police to gain favour have been made even since, claims that AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin called "fanciful and offensive" at a press conference today.
At the press conference, Commissioner Colvin said: "If we had had enough information to arrest the Bali Nine before they left Australia we would have done exactly that."
He cited police guidelines that said they must work with foreign police forces, and said that he could not guarantee that Australians facing similar penalties abroad would not suffer the same fate.
However, Colvin said that one officer asked to be removed from the investigation team because he was concerned that the Bali Nine would face the death penalty due to the AFP's work.
Bob Lawrence, the father of Renae Lawrence, a member of the gang who is due for release in 2026, criticised the AFP shortly after the arrests for helping Indonesian police catch the group.
He said: "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."
Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said that fate of the group had rested on his mind ever since they were arrested.
He said: "If anyone thinks I have not agonised over this for the past 10 years then they dno't know me."
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Source: The Independent, May 4, 2015
Bali nine: AFP 'know they did wrong': Lawyer
|Bali 9 Scott Rush arrested at Bali airport in April 2005|
with heroin bags strapped to his body
AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said on Monday that the authority was not in a position to arrest any of the Bali Nine before their ill-fated trip in 2005.
"At the time we were working with a very incomplete picture. We didn't know everybody involved, we didn't know all the plans, or even what the illicit commodity was likely to be," he said.
However Bob Myers, who was asked by Scott Rush's father to prevent his son leaving the country, said there was evidence this was not true.
Mr Myers contacted the AFP to inform them of Rush's suspected drug involvement, however it later emerged the syndicate had already been under investigation for several months.
"They deliberately brought the Indonesians into it," Mr Myers said.
"They knew the imposition of the death penalty was likely and that was a consequence that they accepted."
Mr Myers pointed to two letters sent by the AFP to Indonesian authorities days before the smugglers departed Australia, which contained the passport details of eight drug mules and details of how they planned to transport heroin.
"They will be carrying body packs (with white powder) back to Australia with packs on both legs and also with back supports. They have already been given the back supports. The packs will be strapped to their bodies. They will be given money to exchange for local currency to purchase oversized loose shirts and sandals," one of the letters said.
Mr Myers said the letters proved the AFP could have arrested Scott Rush and others and charged them with conspiracy.
"Even that didn't matter in the sense that they could have allowed them to come back here," he said.
On Monday, Commissioner Colvin could not guarantee the AFP would act differently if a Bali Nine-style situation emerged again.
"I wish I could assure you that this scenario could never happen again. But I cannot," Commissioner Colvin said, adding that the AFP had refused to exchange information in 15 cases during the last three years.
Mr Myers accused the AFP of "blatantly selling out" the Bali Nine for a perceived "common good".
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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Kristian Silva, May 4, 2015
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