Friday, February 17, 2006

The Courier-Mail: Bali judge fought back tears [17feb06]

The Courier-Mail: Bali judge fought back tears

The Indonesian legal system is certainly different from ours. Lawyers admit being involved in the giving of bribes; judges give comments to the media as the case progresses, part heard; judges reveal the deliberations in chambers over sentence in cases their hearing.

49 year old mother of two daughters aged 14 and 18, Judge Suryowati sat with two others on the trial of 20 year old Myuran Sukumaran, one of the Bali 9. She revealed to Brisbane's Courier Mail that she lobbied her two fellow judges against imposing the death penalty. Then she struggled to hold back tears as the word "mati" (death) tripped off the tongue of he presiding judge.

As the article points out, Sukumaran, of Tamil descent, did not make her entreaties easy. As Wikipedia puts it:

"During the separate trial of fellow defendant, Michael Czugaj, Sukumaran refused to give testimony, stating '...I am also on trial' [3]. He has denied knowing fellow accused Michael Czugaj and Scott Rush, or any knowledge of a heroin importation plan [4]. During his trial he frequently blamed amnesia on his inability to remember events leading to his arrest [5].

Sukumaran denied signing police statements, and when asked by judges to sign his name as an example of his signature, signed his name in four different styles."
Perhaps Judge Suryowati had taken the time to find out about the protocol for executions in Bali though it was her Court's first ever death sentence. Only a couple of days' warning will be given of the day (but not the hour) of the execution before in the dead of night a convoy bearing a priest, a doctor, one of the prosecutors, and 12 gunmen (two with live bullets) selected after a trial involving shooting at dolls, will bear down upon a deserted beach or jungle clearing, and shoot the hooded convict, shackled to "a post, tree, or chair", having aimed at the red cross marking the position of his heart on his white apron. I do not approve.

Thanks to Nick O'Neill's Bali Blog for bringing the story about the Judge to my attention.


Anonymous RAK said...

Death sentences are passed quite often in Indonesia but rarely actually carried out in recent years (before about 1985 is a different story). See this for a list of drug related executions, apparently 3 since 2001, and those 3 for crimes in the 1990s - Also in the few cases I have read about while living here (Jakarta), the newspapers normally announce that an execution is going to be carried out some days in advance and final family visits etc. etc are reported.
I have never heard of one in some "deserted beach or jungle clearing". Where did you get that information? I thought they did it inside the prison.
I generally do not agree with death sentences; but I find it odd that there are few protests about Indonesian death penalties until Australians are involved. It seems that the many others sentenced to death do not count. Australians seem quite unconcerned when Africans, Thais, Indonesians etc are sentenced to death here, usually without the expensive legal help and press coverage given to the Bali 9.

4:24 pm  

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