Three members of Australia’s Bali Nine, who have served 16 years behind bars, should be pardoned and released one day, officials from the Ministry of Justice and Prisons said.
All three, who are incarcerated in Bali, are serving life sentences for their role in an ill-fated heroin smuggling scheme and, unless they can obtain a pardon from the Indonesian president, they will never be released.
As Indonesia’s August 17 Independence Day approaches, when referrals are traditionally announced, the trio’s prison governors and justice officials have sent enthusiastic reports to Jakarta, recommending that they be given the opportunity. of living outside of prison.
The final decision rests with President Joko Widodo, who, in 2015, ordered Bali Nine ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran, 34, and Andrew Chan, 31, to be executed by firing squad.
Matthew James Norman, 34, and Si Yi Chen, 36, are being held in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, while Scott Rush, 35, is in Bangli Narcotics Prison in North Bali.
Norman and Rush were the youngest of the nine Australians arrested in April 2005, when they tried to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin home from Bali. The group, including four couriers with the bound drugs, were arrested at the Bali airport and the rest at a nearby hotel.
Sukumaran and Chan were sentenced to death and the rest, except Renae Lawrence, were sentenced to life imprisonment. Under Indonesian law, life means life, unless a prisoner can obtain a pardon from the president and receive a determining sentence that entitles him to annual sentence and release cuts.
Kerobokan Prison Governor Fikri Jaya Soebing told AAP that both Norman and Chen were model prisoners and deserved referrals.
He said they were both involved in rehabilitation programs that helped other inmates.
“Once we propose it to the government, it means they deserve (a referral),” Fikri said.
“They have never violated the rules within the jail and they actively administer the rehabilitation programs in the jail. They have met all the requirements. If they didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t have proposed it.
“They are both active in the workshop, Si Yi in silver jewelry while Matthew makes clothes. They also train other inmates. They also teach English and both are also actively involved in religious activities. “
Si Yi Chen runs a goldsmith training rehabilitation program in the jail, called Mule Jewels, which gives prisoners hope and teaches them skills for when they are released. Norman is dedicated to screen printing.
The Rush prison governor said he was a changed man and deserved to have his sentence reduced.
“He has realized his wrongdoing,” Agus Pritiatno said, adding that Rush had participated in drug rehab programs.
The prison official said he had told Rush to be patient with the referral request and to continue his good behavior.
The Bali Correctional Board recommended to Rush, Chen and Norman that their sentences be cut.
For Rush, the board presented that he was just a teenager when he was arrested, with immature cognition and ability to make decisions.
In Norman and Chen’s recommendations, the board said that they had already served many years in prison and therefore should be forgiven and allowed to have certainty regarding their future.
Bali Nine member Martin Stephens, 45, who is also serving a life sentence, is in a jail in Malang, East Java. Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, who was in the same jail, died of cancer in 2018.
Lawrence was released in 2018 and has returned to Australia.