05 February 2008

Bali Bombers - An Update

It would appear that the Bali Bombers are not as keen on martyrdom as they have suggested they are or they have failed to convince their lawyers and family to let the law take its course by refusing to have a second judicial review application filed on their behalf.

The Indonesian Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom has decided to accept a second judicial review application from the three Bali Bombers; Amrozi, Imam Samudra, and Ali Ghufron. The second judicial review appears to be premised on the retroactivity of the terrorism law. Criminal laws simply cannot be applied retroactively in Indonesia.

However, this ground of appeal has been attempted before and based on the Constitutional Court decision on whether the terrorism law could be applied retroactively the Court held that it could not. However, in a rather large blow to the applicants the Court went further to say that the law was only invalid from the date of the Constitutional Court decision. Therefore, the convictions stand.

The legal reasoning is flimsy in that when a law is found to be constitutionally invalid then it is invalid from the date of enactment of the law. However, creative decision and law-making here meant that convictions under constitutionally invalid laws would stand. The Constitutional Court has since gone on to make other equally bizarre decisions such as post-dating the invalidity of a law to a date three years into the future (see earlier posts on this craziness).

I am not a supporter of the death penalty and would rather see these cold-blooded murders rot in jail. Unfortunately, any prisoner exchange deal between Australia and Indonesia would not allow for the Bali Bombers to serve their time in an Australian prison. I wonder how long they would last in the general prison population at one of Australia's premier prisons like Silverwater of Goulburn. This is even with the reported explosion in the numbers of prison converts to Islam in Australian prisons.

So, this decision to accept the appeal will delay the inevitable. The Constitutional Court has determined the validity of the provisions of the terrorism law to this case. Even a Supreme Court looking to exert its independence and re-establish its authority as Indonesia's premier court is unlikely to rule in favor of the application. But if it did take the lid of this Pandora's box it would be a case of let the fun & games begin!

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