It’s against the law

In a previous post I referred to a notorious murder trial underway in Bali. I won’t go into the sordid details but you can read about it here and here and many other sites as well. The sentences were handed down yesterday: six years for the main perpetrator and four for the woman defendant. The lives of three families have been irrevocably changed: the Balinese victim (a well-regarded policeman) was a husband and a father; the woman has two young sons in Australia, and the man is the son of a clergyman in England. A tragedy for everyone, and to my mind, a remarkably light sentence in a country where the death penalty is enforced for drug offences.

In this case, the two defendants did themselves no favours in leaving the dying man at the scene, destroying  evidence and giving inconsistent accounts of the events of the night. 

Social media is abuzz with opinion, of course, ranging from the wits who make the connection with the Terminator and think they are being original (it’s become tiresome – the defendant’s name is Sara Connor) to those blaming the victim or even blaming Bali. Some people expect the justice system to be exactly like Australia, or Britain, or Europe, or the US. It’s not -it’s Indonesian and after evidence is presented by prosecutors and defence lawyers, three judges make a determination. And yesterday, they did. Appeals are possible, but at the risk of a higher sentence.

Why is it that behaviour seems to change when people are in an unfamiliar place? A few drinks, a violent outburst, the result a murder. Penalties for drug trafficking are no secret. The law concerning is plastered all over the airport and on banners across the island, yet every week foreigners are arrested saying they did not know. 

The most recent executions were in 2015, but there are many foreign prisoners on death row who could be given very little notice if there is a decision made about their fate in Jakarta. Firing squad at night. A terrible way to die.

In the last round were two Australians, two of nine found guilty of trafficking, who rehabilitated themselves and inspired not only other prisoners, but even the wardens. Appeals from the highest quarters went unheeded and they were executed

Another case involving an Australian woman was less clear cut but she was found guilty of trafficking and has spent 9 years of a 20-year sentence in prison, now out on parole and unable to leave the island yet. 

Prison conditions for the two newest prisoners will be harsh. Presumably they will be located in Kerobokan, overcrowded, corrupt, with regular outbreaks of gang conflict. They will be reliant on friends and family to bring food and small comforts. As far as I know there no extradition arrangements with either Australia or UK, and apart from the reduction of time already spent in custody, will serve the full term. 

How terrible for everybody, but they won’t be the last. Alone, in prison in a foreign land. Apart from being in a war zone, it’s hard to think of anything worse. 

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