The Australian Federal Police have not been “completely honest” about how they handled the drug-smuggling incident a decade ago which cost two Australian lives in Indonesia last week, says the dead men’s lawyer.
Brisbane lawyer Bob Myers told The New Daily that the AFP had enough evidence to intercept the Bali Nine in Australia before travelling to Indonesia, and spare the lives of executed ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The comments come after AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin broke a decade of silence on Monday about the organisation’s decision to alert Indonesian police to the Bali Nine’s drug-running.
However, Commissioner Colvin, during a long press conference on Monday, said the AFP in fact did not have enough evidence to stop members of the group before they left Australia.
But Mr Myers said through freedom of information he found that the AFP had enough knowledge to stop them.
“At the time we were working with a very incomplete picture. We didn’t know everybody involved, we didn’t know all the plans, or even what the illicit commodity was likely to be,” Commissioner Colvin said.
A decade earlier it was Mr Myers who contacted the AFP on behalf of the father of Bali Nine member Scott Rush asking them to intercept Rush in Australia.
“(The AFP) have not been completely honest. They really should tell us the rest of the investigation,” Mr Myers said.
“If they arrested eight of them, Sukumaran would have run scared and not acted alone.
“(Andrew) Chan and (Myuran) Sukumaran would be alive today. And the other seven would not be carcerated for the rest of their lives.”
But Commissioner Colvin was unrepentant during Monday’s press conference.
“We can’t apologise for the role we have to stop illicit drugs coming to this country,” Commissioner Colvin said.
“Which Australian citizens do you want us to protect?”
Mr Myers accused the AFP of “blatantly selling out” the Bali Nine for a perceived “common good”.
“It was better that these people were subject to the death penalty rather than innocent Australian lives lost due to importation of drugs – that seemed to be their justification today,” Mr Myers told The New Daily.
“They should have been arrested before they went, and even if the prosecution fails, they are not exposing Australians to the death penalty.
“The police are there for our protection, and should be looking after all of us.”
Chan and Sukumaran were executed on April 29 for their roles in the drug smuggling operation of April 2005.
Because they were apprehended in Indonesia following an AFP tip-off, they paid with their lives under that country’s tough anti-drug laws.
Mr Myers said he would continue to lobby to bring the remaining seven Bali Nine members back to Australia.
“The AFP know they did wrong, but they will never admit it,” Mr Myers said.
“But nothing can be done about the past, it’s done and two men have lost their lives in circumstances they shouldn’t have.”
Operational guidelines for the AFP were changed after 2005 to make officers consider whether information shared with overseas agencies could lead to an Australian being exposed to the death penalty, Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said during the press conference on Monday.
Commissioner Colvin said if faced with similar circumstances, the AFP would not avoid sharing information solely to protect Australians from the death penalty.