"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bali Nine member Michael Czugaj reveals how Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran changed his life

Michael Czugaj
Michael Czugaj
The youngest member of the infamous Bali Nine drug ring has spoken out about his agony on the second anniversary of the deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Michael Czugaj was only 19 when he was arrested and thrown into a Balinese prison cell after he was found with 1.75kg of heroin strapped to his body at Denpasar Airport in 2005.

He was sentenced to life behind bars and the now 31-year-old was locked in Kerobokan Prison where fellow drug mules Chan and Sukumaran spent their last days.

Czugaj has held onto a glimmer of hope in the crowded, sweaty prison that he may be able to return home to Australia one day.

'I had many dark periods over the years and they helped me… took me under their wing,' Czugaj told Fairfax Media.

'I miss them. I want to live and I want to get home... for them and for myself.'

The former drug trafficker also laments that 'it could have been him' when he speaks about the brutal execution of the two Bali Nine members.

Chan and Sukumaran were labelled as 'model prisoners' after their decade behind bars was spent running art classes, counselling other inmates and - for Chan - preaching Christianity.

Australian officials fought hard to bring the reformed drug smugglers back home and begged Indonesian government for clemency, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Czugaj lodged an appeal for a more lenient sentence a year after he was arrested, and his jail term was reduced to 20 years on April 26, 2006.

But the promise of freedom was short-lived after the ruling was overturned and his original life sentence was reinstated five months later.

The former apprentice glazier was a keen surfer when he lived in Queensland - but Czugaj hasn't seen Australian beaches for over 12 years.

Kerobokan prison
Bali's Kerobokan prison
Like any typical adult man, the Brisbane-native dreams of having a wife and children.

Czugaj has also spoken about the trauma of being forcibly transferred from Kerobokan to a jail in East Java in 2016, a year after the execution.

At the time Kerobokan prison authorities alleged he was moved after being found with less than a gram of 'sabu sabu' or ice.

But the jail that received him in East Java said that was not the case, and it was reported he was transferred due to prison overcrowding.

Kerobokan has a long and notorious history of violence, rioting and corruption, and it has housed notable prisoners such as Schapelle Corby and the Bali Bombers.

But Czugaj claims his time there was almost like a holiday compared the cramped, squalid cells in East Java.

'I have good days and bad days. It is hard to sleep as it is very hot and sometimes there are 15 to a room,' he said.

Czugaj's fellow inmates include terrorists, gang members and murderers - people the convicted drug trafficker rubs shoulders with every day.

April 29 marks the two year anniversary of Chan and Sukumaran's death, and earlier this month marked the official arrest of the Bali Nine in 2005.

Source: Daily Mail Australia, April Glover, April 29, 2017

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