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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Editorial: In step with the Nazis?

'A grotesque display of medieval torture.'
On Tuesday, a gay couple in Aceh was punished with 85 strokes of the cane — despite protests from human rights advocates — for violating the province’s Islamic bylaw that bans homosexuality. (See YouTube video below.)

In North Jakarta on Monday, police arrested 141 men for allegedly violating the 2008 Pornography Law, which bans, among others, the provision of porn or making people “objects or models” of porn — clauses that respectively carry a maximum penalty of six and 10 years imprisonment.

For the people of Aceh, the sharia option was allowed in its 2005 international peace agreement with the government, though its bylaws remain controversial, even in the province. But the latter incident, a raid on a gym, clearly shows strong support for authorities barging in on the private realm, even without Aceh’s moral police.

The Jakarta Police were backed up by the Pornography Law, itself the product of a war between secular- and religious groups, the latter of which won the war with the tacit approval of the administration of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Critics’ fears materialized as the law, however vague, has been used by authorities and conservative parties to interfere in the private sphere, including sexuality. Sexual minorities are among the expected victims, with few sympathizers among our homophobic society — including those who recently joined shouts of, “Uphold the Pancasila,” referring to Indonesia’s state ideology, which promotes “a just and civilized humanity.”

Raids and arrests of allegedly gay people bring to mind past and present persecutions and criminalizations of sexual minorities. The most extreme example is perhaps the reportedly large portion of homosexuals among victims of the Nazi gas chambers.

Many of us think we are beyond such cruelty. Yet, the instant circulation of images of the mostly undressed men arrested in North Jakarta — being herded to police headquarters with some of their faces clearly visible — shows that Indonesians share similar homophobic sentiments with Nazi rulers. The leaked images were shared with exclamations of horror and support for the police, whom people praised for attempting to safeguard the youth and society from such “sinful” same-sex relations.

Continuous moral boosts for authorities to “protect” citizens’ morality will only endanger us as we virtually hand them a blank check to do so — just because police actions against gays are justified by the Pornography Law.

And like the Blasphemy Law, it further stigmatizes minorities, who, due to being “different,” find few effective channels to raise their voices. Religious groups claim that Indonesians, as God-fearing people, can in no way accept homosexuality. But, as Indonesia is not a religious state, authorities must keep out of the private realm, and limit religious issues to religious forums.

Following Monday’s raid, the police will need to, at least, clearly give proof of their allegations, including against the parties who allegedly made “objects of porn” out of the men. But by failing to protect the detainees’ privacy, the police are obviously riding on popularity based on widespread bigotry. Meaning, the National Police, under Gen. Tito Karnavian, have yet to safeguard the constitutional guarantee of our citizens’ basic human rights.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Editorial, May 24, 2017

Aceh promotes tourism at 2017 Bali Arts Festival and Buleleng Expo

After a successful tourism event in Yogyakarta last month, residents of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province traveled to Bali to take part in the 2017 Bali Arts Festival and Buleleng Expo that was held from May 17 to 21 in Singaraja, Bali.

“We are promoting Aceh as a halal tourist destination, or what is now called family-friendly,” said Aceh Tourism Agency head Reza Pahlevi.

Members of the Cut Nyak Dhien Meuligo studio under the mentorship of Niazah A. Hamid traveled to Bali to showcase some of Aceh’s most famous traditional dances, such as the Prang Sabil and Saman dances.

The Saman Dance was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It was also briefly featured in British band Coldplay’s Amazing Day Global Film Project video.

The Aceh Tourism Agency also set up a booth at the Buleleng Expo involving two travel agencies: Aceh Great Wall Tour and Asoe Nanggroe Wisata. The two of them sold tourist packages and local products such as coffee, traditional costumes and souvenirs.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said that the halal tourism market has experienced growth since 2014. Of the estimated global population of 7.5 billion people, around 1.6 billion are Muslim and 60 percent of them are below 30 years old.

“The total spending of Muslim tourists in the world is US$143 billion, almost equal to the spending of Chinese tourists of $160 billion,” said Arief Yahya.

Source: Jakarta Post, May 22, 2017

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UN human rights watchdog orders Saudi Arabia to stop executing children

People over 15-years-old in the Kingdom are tried as adults and can be executed

The United Nations has called on Saudi Arabia to repeal laws that allow stoning, amputation, flogging and execution of children.

Children over 15 years are tried as adults and can be executed, "after trials falling short of guarantees of due process and a fair trial", according to the report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The committee's 18 independent experts analysed the kingdom's compliance record with a UN treaty protecting the rights of citizens under the age of 18.

Experts voiced concern that the Saudi government "still does not recognise girls as full subjects of rights and continues to severely discriminate (against) them in law and practice and to impose on them a system of male guardianship".

The committee said violations of young girls' right to equality should not justified using traditional, religious or cultural attitudes.

Children from the minority Shi'ite community and other religious minorities are continually discriminated against in their access to schools and justice in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, they said.

According to the UN committee, out of 47 people executed on 2 January for security offences, four were under 18.

Responding to the committee's findings, the Saudi Human Rights Commission told the body that Islamic Sharia law, was above all laws and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Bandar Bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, the chairman of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, did state the kingdom had the political will to protect children.

All sexual abuse against children should be made illegal in Saudi Arabia with persecutors prosecuted, the experts said.

The case of Muslim preacher Fayhan al-Ghamdi was cited by the report, saying his charges were reduced and he was released from jail "after having raped, tortured and killed his five-year-old daughter" in 2012.

Saudi air strikes in Yemen were also strongly criticised by the UN watchdog which said hundreds of children had been killed and maimed.

Source: The Independent, Reuters, May 23, 2017

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Turkey opens trial of suspected military coup plotters

Suspected coup plotters are paraded ahead of  trial.
'An act of treason': Suspected coup plotters are paraded ahead of trial.
Trial of 221 main suspects of July 15 coup bid begins amid heavy security and calls for death penalty.

More than 220 suspects, including over two dozen former Turkish generals, have gone on trial accused of being among the ringleaders of the attempted coup last year aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Protesters outside Turkey's largest courtroom in the Sincan district of Ankara called on Monday for the death penalty for the accused and flung rope nooses at the defendants as they were paraded into court handcuffed and held by the security forces.

Erdogan: Turkey coup bid 'an act of treason'

"We want the death penalty, we don't want them to be fed and housed here. We want these traitors to be buried without any flag," said protester Cengiz Ozturk.

Turkey abolished the death penalty as part of its drive to join the European Union but Erdogan has on occasion indicated it could be reimposed to deal with the coup plotters.

There was heavy security in place on Monday, with a drone flying overhead and armoured security vehicles on site as well as snipers on the roof.

Hearings at the trial, one of the largest of several coup-related trials taking place across Turkey, are expected to last until June 16.

Turkey blames the attempted July 15 putsch on the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies, and has launched a relentless purge under a state of emergency against those deemed to have backed the plot.

Gulen is among 12 of the 221 suspects in the current trial who remain at large, with the remainder appearing in court for the 1st time inside a prison complex in Sincan.

26 generals are among those charged, including former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of senior ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli.

Also on trial is colonel Ali Yazici, Erdogan's former military aide, and Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide of Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar.

The most prominent figure among the suspects, Ozturk was dressed crisply in a black sweater and held a blue file as he was led into the court.

His appearance contrasted with the last known image of him which showed him bearing injuries including a bandaged ear after his capture 2 days after the coup bid.

Almost 40 of those on trial are accused of being part of the "Peace At Home Council", the committee established by the suspected coup plotters to replace the government if the putsch had succeeded.

The charges against them include "violating the constitution", "using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow" the parliament and the Turkish government, "martyring 250 citizens" and "attempting to kill 2,735 citizens", Hurriyet daily reported on Sunday.

The attempted putsch left 248 people dead, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

Source: aljazeera.com, May 23, 2017

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EU condemns latest Hamas death sentences

EU, Norway condemn 3 death sentences against killers of senior Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha.

The European Union (EU) Heads of Mission and the Head of Mission of Norway in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Monday condemned the 3 death sentences that were issued in Gaza against the suspected assassin and 2 suspected accomplices in the March death of senior Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha.

"The Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall their opposition under all circumstances to the use of capital punishment," said the statement, as quoted by the Palestinian Authority-based Ma'an news agency.

The statement added that the EU and Norway "consider that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the protection of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights."

It noted that the missions considered capital punishment "to be cruel and inhuman," and that "it fails to provide deterrence to criminal behavior, and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity."

"The de facto authorities in Gaza must refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend," the statement concluded.

The death sentences were handed down by a Gaza court on Sunday. The court ruled that Ashraf L., Faqha's alleged killer, was guilty of collaborating with "a hostile foreign entity" and premeditated murder.

The military court said he had been collaborating with an Israeli intelligence officer and "provided sensitive information about resistance and fighters" in return for money.

Faqha, a convicted terrorist released in the 2011 Shalit deal, was shot by unknown assailants in his Gaza home in March.

Hamas authorities in Gaza accused Israel of being behind his death immediately after it happened, and threatened to get Israel back for any action by Israeli security forces against Hamas senior officials.

Following Faqha's death, Hamas released a video in which it threatened to eliminate senior Israeli officials.

The group has arrested dozens of Gazans on charges of collaborating with Israel following the killing of Faqha.

Hamas regularly claims to have captured "Israeli spies", and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.

In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority's (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.

Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas's legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.

Source: israelnationalnews.com, May 23, 2017

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Malaysia: Amnesty criticises two ‘secretive executions’, calls for moratorium on death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Amnesty International Malaysia criticised prison authorities for executing two men earlier today at the Sungai Buloh prison in a secretive manner.

The NGO also demanded the government to establish a moratorium on carrying out death penalties.

In a statement, Amnesty said that 48-year-old Yong Kar Mun, who was convicted of discharging a firearm during robbery, and another individual convicted of murder, were both executed at 5.30am today.

Yong’s execution was allegedly carried out with limited notice, with the family only being informed of the execution less than 24 hours before it was carried out, while no information has been made available on the second convict who was also executed.

“The secretive way through which the Malaysian authorities have been carrying out executions is plain cruel. In these and previous executions, the authorities have added considerable distress to the prisoners and their families and shown blatant disregard for international law and standards ­­— it is high time this practice stopped,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

She said that by providing limited notice, the authorities are also denying the convicts a chance to seek further review of their cases.

“The government has repeatedly promised legislative reforms on the death penalty, yet no drafts have been shared and more lives have been taken by the gallows.

“If Malaysia aspires to join the Human Rights Council, it should demonstrate its commitment to human rights by ending executions and abolishing the death penalty. The time for action is now,” she added.

Amnesty previously condemned a similar “hasty execution” conducted by authorities in March, when brothers on death row, Rames and Suthar Batumalai, were executed with a notice of less than 48 hours.

Source: Malay Mail Online, May 24, 2017

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Dylann Roof to appeal death sentence

Dylann Roof
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A white supremacist sentenced to death for killing nine worshippers in a racist attack at a Charleston church has petitioned an appeals court for mercy.

Attorneys for Dylann Roof filed notice Tuesday they were appealing his conviction and sentence to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earlier this month, the federal judge who presided over Roof’s trial rejected his first appeal, ruling the conviction and death sentence for the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME church should stand.

Roof argued his crime didn’t fit the definition of interstate commerce needed for a federal case. 

The judge ruled Roof used a telephone to call the church and the bullets and gun were manufactured in a different state.

Source: The Associated Press, May 23, 2017

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Florida's appeal over death penalty unanimity case

Florida's death chamber
Florida's death chamber
Bolstering a state law requiring unanimous jury recommendations in death penalty cases, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by Attorney General Pam Bondi on the issue.

The court's decision to deny what is known as a “writ of certiorari” essentially cements a state law enacted this year in response to a seminal Florida Supreme Court decision in a case involving convicted murderer Timothy Lee Hurst.

That Florida Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent law said juries need to make unanimous recommendations before judges can sentence defendants to death. As is common, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday did not give reasons for turning down Bondi's appeal of the Florida Supreme Court ruling.

“It would be hard to read exactly what exactly the U.S. Supreme Court meant by it, except that it will probably end most of the state's litigation with regard to these issues,” said Pete Mills, an assistant state attorney in the 10th Judicial Circuit who also serves as chairman of the Florida Public Defenders Association Death Penalty Steering Committee.

Hurst, who was sent to Death Row for a 1998 murder in Pensacola, has been at the center of two major rulings that found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

In an appeal by Hurst, the U.S. Supreme Court early last year struck down the state's system of allowing judges, instead of juries, to find the facts necessary to impose the death penalty. The court found the state's system was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury, and sent the case back to the Florida Supreme Court.

At the time of the January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Florida's system allowed jurors by a simple majority to recommend the death penalty. Judges would then make findings of fact that "sufficient" aggravating factors, not outweighed by mitigating circumstances, existed for the death sentence to be imposed, a process known as "weighing."

Florida lawmakers in 2016 hurriedly rewrote the law to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision, requiring jurors to unanimously find that at least one aggravating factor exists before a defendant can be eligible for a death sentence and requiring that at least 10 of 12 jurors recommend death for the sentence to be imposed.

In October, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the statute was unconstitutional because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations about imposing the death penalty, something not addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Bondi's office in December asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the Florida court's ruling.

In its request for discretionary review, the state argued that Florida court's “expansive reading” of the U.S. court's decision in the Hurst case was erroneous.

Hurst was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of fast-food worker Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola. Harrison, an assistant manager at a Popeye's Fried Chicken restaurant where Hurst worked, was bound, gagged and stabbed more than 60 times. Her body was found in a freezer.

A jury in 2000 recommended the death penalty for Hurst, now 38. After the state Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing, a jury recommended death by a vote of 7-5 in 2012.

In its October ruling in the Hurst case deciding that death-penalty recommendations must be unanimous, the Florida Supreme Court relied both on state and federal constitutional guarantees to the right to a trial by jury.

The Florida court decision regarding unanimity will likely result in new penalty-phase hearings for about 55 percent of Florida's 386 Death Row inmates.

The state court has already ordered new sentencing hearings for numerous cases involving non-unanimous jury recommendations, and Monday's decision by the federal court takes the unanimity issue off the table, according to defense lawyers.

“It's certainly good news for Mr. Hurst,” said Dave Davis, a recently retired assistant public defender in the 2nd Judicial Circuit who represented Hurst.

Davis and other public defenders, who warned lawmakers that the lack of unanimity in the 2016 law would not withstand court scrutiny, were relieved but not surprised by the U.S. court's refusal to take up the case Monday.

With more than 100 cases poised to be sent back to lower courts, prosecutors are now faced with seeking capital punishment or life imprisonment. Some of the cases are decades old, posing problems with witnesses and evidence for prosecutors.

“Prosecutors are going to have to decide is it worth the effort to try to get death again. They're going to have to examine their evidence … and decide what the likelihood is that they're going to get 12 jurors to decide death,” Davis said.

The new requirement is especially relevant in the Hurst case, where a jury has never unanimously recommended the death penalty, Davis pointed out.

“Prosecutors have a tough problem here,” he said. “Some cases just get old. Can you find witnesses in a case that's 14 or 15 years old? … Logistical and practical problems that crop up with cases that are in some cases 20 years old.”

Source: Orlando Weekly, Dara Kam, News Service of Florida, May 23, 2017

Florida's new death penalty rule means fewer death sentences

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Florida’s new death penalty sentencing rules will keep some criminals from sitting on death row.

Take the case of Andy Avalos, Jr., convicted on three murder charges, two of them first-degree murder. State Attorney Ed Brodsky thought the decision was crystal clear.

“Three separate individuals he killed were brutally killed, we believe (that) warranted the death penalty,” says Brodsky.

Yet a jury gave Andy Avalos a sentence of life in prison without parole, thanks to a new Florida rule. It requires a jury to agree unanimously on the death penalty, and a judge has no say.

Brodsky says, “We’re disappointed, but we respect the jury’s verdict.”

Under the old rule, Avalos would have gotten death for the murder of Pastor James Tripp Battle. The jury voted 7-5, and a majority was all that was needed.

“I think it’s going to be harder. I think the Florida Supreme Court placed a significant burden on prosecutors in the state of Florida,” says Brodsky.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida’s death penalty unconstitutional and the state rewrote its death penalty guidelines. It’s a move criminal defense attorney Derek Byrd says was the right one.

“The death penalty doesn’t work, it never worked or going to work from my standpoint," Byrd says. "I’m glad it’s a higher burden. It does not work doesn’t prevent murders and actually costs taxpayers more money to have death penalty than to put someone in prison for the rest of their lives (due to) the nature of appeals."

One report tallies the average cost for the 12- to 15-year-long appeals process at more than a million dollars per death row inmate.

Without the death penalty, Byrd says prosecutors lose their leverage for plea deals.

“Now it’s so difficult to get the death penalty I think more defendants will roll the dice and say, 'I’ll take my chances in trial.' It's still going to be difficult to convince 12 people someone deserves the death penalty.”

All it takes is one juror?

“All it takes is one," Byrd says.

That means prosecutors will also have to work harder at selecting a jury that is willing to give the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime.

Two hundred inmates placed on death row since 2002 are eligible for another sentencing hearing if their verdict wasn’t a unanimous one.

Florida has 367 inmates on death row, including four women. Florida has executed 91 prisoners since 1979.

Source: WTSP-TV, Isabel Mascareñas, May 23, 2017

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ohio court schedules 2nd execution attempt for Romell Broom

Romell Broom, photographed shortly after he survived a botched execution attempt in 2009.
Romell Broom, photographed shortly after he
survived a botched execution attempt in 2009.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court has set a new execution date for a convicted killer who survived a botched execution attempt in 2009.

The court last week scheduled the lethal procedure for death row inmate Romell Broom for June 17, 2020.

Broom was sentenced to die for abducting, raping and killing 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in Cleveland in 1984.

The 62-year-old Broom is only the second U.S. inmate to survive an execution after the process began.

On September 15, 2009 Broom's execution was stopped by Gov. Ted Strickland after an execution team tried for two hours to find a suitable vein. 

Broom said he was stuck with needles at least 18 times, with pain so excruciating he cried and screamed.

Lawyers for Romell Broom argued that giving the state prisons agency a second chance would amount to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy.

Broom's lawyers argued that no attempt to execute him could occur without violating his constitutional right prohibiting double jeopardy, and requested that he be taken off of death row.

In a court filing Broom's attorneys said, "His death sentence may no longer be carried out by any means or methods without violating the constitutional rights identified...he must be removed from death row and placed in the Ohio prison system's general population."

A divided Ohio Supreme Court rejected Broom’s arguments. At the time, the state asserted that lower courts properly determined that any mistakes happened during execution preparations, not the actual procedure.

Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley says Broom has stalled his execution for years with appeals.

Broom's attorneys say Broom has important appeals still pending.

Source: The Associated Press, May 23, 2017

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Hopes high profile of Schapelle Corby, Bali Nine’s drug-running plight a deterrent: Michael Keenan

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
The high profile plight of Schappelle Corby and the Bali Nine had hopefully gone some way to deter young Australians from risking their life to traffic drugs in foreign countries, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has said.

Speaking on the eve of Corby’s deportation, 13 years after her arrest and later conviction for smuggling 4.2kg of cannabis, Minister Keenan told News Corp Australia while some may have been dissuaded others still did not appreciate the severity of offshore laws and were prepared to risk their life.

Mr Keenan said Asian countries particularly had strict drug laws and there were still Aussie fools looking to take risk over gain despite the Corby case and that of the Bali Nine, the group of nine Australians convicted of smuggling heroin in Indonesia with ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran sentenced to death and executed and the others serving lengthy prison sentences.

“I hope the example of her case dissuades, but also don’t forget the people who were executed in Indonesia shows that anyone involved in the drug trafficking in Indonesia is doing so with enormous risk of harm to themselves and it is an incredibly foolish thing to do, an incredibly foolish thing to do” he told News Corp.

“So look I hope yes the message has sunk in that when Australians go offshore and commit crimes they are not protected by the Australian government and of course they will be subject to the full force of the jurisdiction that they are in.

“I don’t want to comment on any one individual case but anyone who gets involved in drugs overseas particularly in our region where the death penalty exists is doing something incredibly foolish.”

Mr Keenan said while Corby’s case was high profile there were many other Australians getting caught overseas, not necessarily on the public radar.

“Unfortunately in the course of decades there have been plenty of Australians that involve themselves in drugs trade in the region and I deal with cases regularly, maybe not high profile case you are mentioning, but Australians do involve in the drug trade at enormous risk to themselves,” he said.

One of those high profile cases is that of 22-year-old Cassie Sainsbury, facing 25 years in jail in Colombia for allegedly attempt to traffic 5.8kg of cocaine to Australia.

Source: Courier Mail, Charles Miranda in Bali, News Corp Australia Network, May 23, 2017

Been busted in Bali too: other offenders


Sara Connor, a mother of two from Byron Bay in NSW, was sentenced to four years in March after being found guilty of fatally assaulting Bali police officer Wayan Sudarsa in company with her British boyfriend David Taylor. Mr Sudarsa's battered body was discovered on Kuta Beach in the early hours of August 17, 2016. Prosecutors appealed her sentence and in May it was increased to five years. She continues to proclaim her innocence.


Ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad on Indonesia's Nusakambangan island in April 2015 for their part in the 2005 plot to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia. Renae Lawrence has been the only member of the Bali Nine eligible to receive reductions on her 20-year jail term. The others - Martin Stephens, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Michael Czugaj, Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Scott Rush - are serving life sentences.


Model Michelle Leslie was deported from Bali in November 2005 after serving three months for ecstasy possession. After her arrest she claimed she had converted to Islam 18 months earlier and began covering her head. She emerged from prison wearing jeans and a tank top.


Jamie Murphy, 18, walked free from a Bali police station in November 2016, after officers announced the white powder he was discovered with at the Kuta nightclub Sky Garden almost 48 hours earlier was a mixture of painkillers, caffeine, and cold medication. Police initially suspected the 1.6 grams of powder was heroin or cocaine - an offence that carries a maximum 12 years in prison.


In a case that highlighted the scourge of child sex tourism in Southeast Asian countries, Australian Robert Ellis was sentenced to 15 years prison in October 2016 for molesting at least 11 local girls. His trial heard the 70-year-old Victorian man abused the girls aged nine to 15 at his rented room in Tabanan, near Kuta, in exchange for gifts and money. He later wrote a letter saying he was acting under "God's law not man's".


A 14-year-old Australian found himself in police custody for two months in 2011 after being caught with 3.6 grams of marijuana, which he said he bought on Kuta Beach. Dubbed the "Bali Boy", because he could not be identified, the NSW teenager ended up serving his time at an immigration facility after the government intervened and ruled that Kerobokan prison was not suitable.

Source: news.com.au, Lauren Farrow, Australian Associated Press, May 22, 2017

Finding a drug deal as simple as making eye contact in Indonesia's tourist hotspots

Bali street
'Tourists are particularly vulnerable to Indonesia's drug syndicates.'
Twelve years after Schapelle Corby was convicted of importing marijuana to Indonesia, the country's tough narcotics laws haven't dented the drugs market in Bali.

The nation's anti-drugs body, the National Narcotics Board, says tourists are particularly vulnerable to Indonesia's drug syndicates.

Much harder substances than marijuana are sold on the street, and dealers boast of their connections to police.

Being offered drugs in Kuta's tourist strip

On Kuta's tourist strip, Bali's drug dealers work the crowd in gangs of five or six people.

Finding a deal is as simple as making eye contact. I do that — and the lookout approaches.

"What you got?" I ask.

"Cocaine," he replies before taking me around the corner, on a slightly darker street, to meet the dealer.

He's a skinny guy, about 40 years old. We sit on a step behind some parked motorbikes. The tourists in their shorts and t-shirts don't look twice at us as they stroll by.

Leaning in close so we can hear each other, we must look pretty suspicious. Clearly, at this hour, we're not discussing motorbike rentals.

He shows me a bag of what he says is cocaine — and asks whether I want one or two grams.

I tell him I'm worried about the police.

You don't have to be Corby or the Bali Nine to get into serious trouble here — Australians are jailed for a year and longer for the smallest amount of drugs.

I don't tell him that I was here last year covering the case of a Perth teenager who was nabbed in a nightclub with a bag of white powder — and was only freed because police tested it and it turned out to be painkillers, not cocaine.

The dealer reassures me.

"I'll look after you, don't you be scared, no worries," he says.

Foreigners targeted by drug syndicates

The National Narcotics Board (BNN) says the supply of drugs is in abundance in tourist destinations like Bali.

The board's spokesman, Sulistiandriatmoko, strongly advises visitors to be cautious.

"Tourists come in a happy mood, they're financially able — and they're the target of the drugs syndicates. For those who don't realise they're being targeted the temptation is very great.

There's plenty of temptation here — 50 metres from the Bali bomb memorial, a dealer offers me a gram of cocaine for $300.

He says if I buy 2 grams, he'll give me a $100 discount.

In the space of an hour in Kuta I'm offered speed, cocaine, hash, marijuana leaf, and cocaine by four separate dealers.

One man pursues me along the street. I walk past him, and he reappears in my path a minute or two later, as if by magic. He'd ridden ahead of me on his motorbike, he explains, and his prices drop each time.

By the third interaction he's offering to sell me 2 grams of cocaine for $100 — and to ease my concerns about the police, he'll deliver to my hotel room, as if it was a takeaway pizza.

"Where you staying? I bring you," he promises.

That would be a risky delivery to accept. The death penalty here applies for tiny quantity of drugs — technically it can be used for anything greater than 5 grams of marijuana.

Indonesia's major ice problem

Corby was lucky, in a way. She received her 20-year term about a year before the courts began regularly imposing the death penalty.

After remissions and clemency, she has ended up serving 12 years in jail.

The penalties in Indonesia are ruthless, not because of marijuana or cocaine, but because of the drug ice — crystal methamphetamine — known here as Shabu.

Indonesia has a major Shabu problem.

The BNN says 70 per cent of Indonesia's 5 million drug users are on Shabu.

I'm not offered any ice on the streets of Kuta. Maybe I'm just lucky.

Source: abc.net.au, Adam Harvey, May 24, 2017

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Malaysia to execute man on death row in days

Yong Kar Mun has days, if not hours, left to live if the authorities proceed with his execution expected to take place anytime within the next 72 hours, Amnesty International Malaysia said today.

Yong, 48, who has been on death row since March 2009 is scheduled to be executed “soon” at the Sungai Buloh prison. He failed in his appeals at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court on 6 October 2011 and 2 August 2012, respectively.

“Yong’s family received a letter by hand from the Sungai Buloh Prison at 2pm today, asking the family to visit him for the final time tomorrow (23 May 2017) at 9am. The family does not know when Yong will be executed,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

However, based on existing practice the execution is expected to take place this week.

Yong was sentenced to death in 2009 under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act ,1971, which carries the mandatory death penalty, read together with Article 37 of the Penal Code, after being found guilty of discharging a firearm during an armed robbery. While no casualties resulted as a consequence of the robbery, another man involved in the commission of the robbery was killed in the fire exchange during the subsequent police chase.

The imposition of the mandatory death penalty is prohibited under international law, which also states that, in countries where it has not yet been abolished, the imposition of the death penalty must be restricted to “the most serious crimes”, meaning intentional killing.

The secretive nature of executions in Malaysia has been consistently criticised by Amnesty International. Information is hardly made publicly available on individual death penalty cases and families are often informed merely days before that their loved ones will be executed.

“The lack of transparency around executions in Malaysia is a violation of international law and standards. Families must have sufficient time to prepare for the last visit and take any further recourse available at the national or international level. To date, they still do not know when the execution is due to be carried out,” Shamini said.

The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that the ‘automatic and mandatory imposition of the death penalty constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life (…) in circumstances where the death penalty is imposed without any possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence.’

“Amnesty International Malaysia does not downplay the seriousness of crimes committed, but we urge the authorities to consider introducing more effective crime prevention measures that respect human rights instead of continuously using one that has no merit,” Shamini said.

Amnesty International Malaysia calls on the Malaysian government to put a stop to Yong Kar Mun’s scheduled execution and impose a moratorium on executions immediately with a view to full abolition.

Source: Amnesty International, May 22, 2017

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Jakarta governor Ahok withdraws appeal against blasphemy jail sentence

The outgoing governor of Jakarta has shocked the capital by withdrawing an appeal against his two-year jail sentence for blasphemy against Islam within minutes of it being filed.

Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's own lawyer confessed he was flummoxed by his client's decision.

"As for the reason for the withdrawal we don't know yet," lawyer Wayan Sudirta told Fairfax Media.

Ahok, a popular reformist governor, was jailed for two years after he made comments during his election campaign that a Jakarta court found were blasphemous.

Ahok had told fishermen they were being deceived by his political foes who used a verse in the Koran to argue Muslims should not have a non-Muslim leader.

He later repeatedly apologised but the remarks also cost him victory in the gubernatorial election in April, despite high approval ratings for his performance while governor.

The two-year jail sentence was far harsher than that requested by the prosecutors, who asked for a suspended jail sentence for the lesser charge of inciting hatred.

The outcome of the trial was seen as a triumph for creeping conservative Islamism in Indonesia and candle-lit vigils were held across the archipelago lamenting Ahok's downfall.

Remarkably the prosecution itself appealed, complaining the panel of five judges had ignored their request he be found guilty of the lesser charge of inciting hatred.

Mr Sudirta said Ahok's principle in life was to place the interest of the nation ahead of his own.

"That's his way of life, he wants to serve the people, believe in the Bible, believe in God's plan," Mr Sudirta said.

"If those were some of the reasons behind the withdrawal ... I don't know yet."

He said Ahok defended Pancasila, the state ideology that stresses belief not in one religion but in one God, and the national motto of unity in diversity.

A press conference will be held on Tuesday to explain Ahok's decision.

Ahok has reportedly been reading the Bible and writing to stave off the loneliness of a life behind bars.

"Who knows, he may produce quality writing in prison, just like (Indonesia's first president) Sukarno," his sister Fify Lety Indra, a lawyer who represented Ahok in court, told The Jakarta Post.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: Brisbane Times, Jewel Topsfield, May 23, 2017

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The Accusation: When the Victims Are Not Victims at All

Ray Spencer, center, with his son, Matt Spencer, and his daughter, Katie Spencer Tetz. MARK MAHANEY FOR ESQUIRE
Ray Spencer, center, with his son, Matt Spencer,
and his daughter, Katie Spencer Tetz. (Esquire)
What is it like to have a family member murdered and find out the wrong person went to prison? What is it like to be a rape victim who later discovers you identified the wrong man in a police lineup? We felt that such individuals would have unique feelings about the criminal justice system, and the initiative led to a couple of short pieces.

But in the Ray Spencer case there was a twist: The victims were not victims at all. Ray was convicted of sexually assaulting his children in 1985 and served 19 years in prison. Not long after he was released, his children began working to clear his name.

ON CHRISTMAS EVE IN 2004, Katie Spencer Tetz, a twenty-five-year-old job recruiter living in Sacramento, California, was sitting on the floor near her Christmas tree, wrapping gifts, when the phone rang. It was her mother, DeAnne, with news: After nineteen years, Katie's father, Ray, was going to be released from prison. The last time Katie saw Ray she was six years old.

She hung up, grabbed her keys, and lunged for the door with no destination in mind, just a primal urge to move. Her husband, Mike, ran over to hold her as she sobbed by the door, in the grip of fear and grief she rarely let herself feel.Katie barely knew her father, but his life was the central mystery of her own. He was the reason she could never make sense of her earliest childhood memories, and why she wasn't sure she wanted to.

For most of Katie's life, Ray had been locked away in a Washington state prison, serving two life sentences for violently molesting Katie, her brother and their step-brother. The case—a 1985 conviction on eleven counts of statutory rape—was based largely on what the children told investigators under questioning. Almost two decades passed before a new defense team discovered disturbing flaws in the investigation. The governor had commuted Ray's sentence, and he was getting out.

Katie didn't know the full story. She knew only what DeAnne had told her growing up: Ray had touched her "inappropriately." Katie didn't remember any of the abuse, but DeAnne explained that Katie had most likely buried the terrible things her father had done to her so deeply that she couldn't access any recollections of them.

That never felt right to Katie, though. She had long nursed a suspicion that the memories weren't there because they didn't exist, and her father had been innocent all along. If that was the case, it meant she and her older brother, Matt, had played a role in putting their father in prison.

Now that he was set to be released, Katie and her brother might see him again, and come to terms with the fact that a few moments of their childhood—moments Katie could scarcely remember, and moments Matt remembered all too well—had derailed their entire family.

WHEN HER PARENTS DIVORCED in 1979, Katie was still a baby; Matt was three. They lived in Sacramento with DeAnne, who struggled to provide for them, working as a janitor and in various office jobs. Twice a year, the children visited their father in Washington state, where he worked as a police officer. He was known among friends as cocksure and flirtatious, but also as a doting father, who fished and camped with his children. Katie would hunt for blackberries and snap peas in his rambling backyard. A few years after the divorce, he moved in with his second wife, Shirley, and her son, also named Matt. When everyone was together, Ray's son became Big Matt, and Shirley's was known as Little Matt.

In August 1984, Ray attended a police conference out of town, leaving all three children with Shirley. When he returned, she was despondent. One night, she told him, she and the children had been watching a movie before bed when Katie, then five, tried to stick her hand under Shirley's robe and between her legs. "What are you doing?" Shirley asked, startled. "I'm trying to touch your pee-pee," Katie said. She said it was something she often did with her daddy and other members of her family.

By the time Shirley told Ray this, his children had already returned to Sacramento. Ray was stunned: Could "daddy" be a reference to some boyfriend of DeAnne's? He went into cop mode, sitting Shirley down and telling her to write out everything she could recall Katie saying. He called the local police, the sheriff, and Child Protective Services offices in both Vancouver, Washington, and Sacramento.

In Sacramento, police did not pursue a full investigation. But Sharon Krause, an investigator with the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Washington, took an interest in the case and visited Katie in Sacramento several times.

Krause was known for her ability to win the trust of traumatized children, a skill that was increasingly in demand. By 1984, a consensus had developed among social workers, psychologists, and law enforcement that sexual crimes against children had been chronically underreported and under-punished. In her police report, Krause wrote that Katie was shy at first; then she described a moment when "my dad's wiener was sticking up." Katie grabbed two dolls Krause had brought and demonstrated various sexual acts. "My daddy was being bad," she said.

RAY DIDN'T KNOW the full extent of the accusations. He agreed to take two polygraphs, and immediately after the second one, Krause's supervisor, Mike Davidson, told Ray he hadn't passed.

In January 1985, five months after Shirley told Ray about Katie's strange behavior, Ray was charged with sexually assaulting Katie. Over the next few months, more accusations followed: Little Matt, age four, said Ray had raped him in a bathtub and nearly drowned him. Big Matt, then nine, told Krause he had been raped, too, and not just by his father; he said Ray had invited other police officers over to participate. Investigators never gleaned enough detail to charge anyone else.

After Katie's accusation, Ray shifted from rage into a kind of disassociated horror. "As a cop, it's all black and white," he says. "Suddenly, I'm looked at as the bad guy." He was ordered by his police department to stay home and was often alone. "You think about what it's going to take to get up the next morning," he says of that time. "You just sit there and obsess. You think about every facet."One day, it was too much to bear, and Ray pulled out his .357. "I remember a little voice in the back of my head saying, 'Hey, maybe for your children's sake, you should get some help.'" 

He called a suicide hotline and was whisked off to a psychiatric hospital, where he let himself break. "They found me holed up in the corner, crying," he says. "I don't remember much of it other than the attendants rushing in."

Drugs stabilized him enough that he could return home, but they also fogged his mind as the accusations from Little Matt and Big Matt started to pile up. What if somehow he had molested the children but just couldn't remember it? If that was the case, he thought, then he deserved to be locked up. "My God, why can't I remember?" he told investigators. "What's the matter with me?" He agreed to try sodium amytal—truth serum—and took so much that it knocked him out. Still, no memories."

In the haze, there was a niggling in my stomach that something wasn't right," Ray says. But as the trial approached, he was presented with what he saw as an impossible choice: force his own children to relive on the witness stand whatever unspeakable things had happened to them, or confess to something he couldn't remember. That May, Ray decided to take an Alford plea—similar to a "no contest" plea, acknowledging the strength of the case against him without admitting guilt—and was sentenced to two life sentences, plus fourteen years.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: The Marshall Project, Maurice Chammah, May 21, 2017

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