The Australian Federal Police is continuing to face bitter recriminations about its involvement in the arrest of the Bali Nine, including the two Australians likely to be executed soon.
Ten years after the convicted drug smugglers were caught trying to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin out of Indonesia, a barrister and family friend of Scott Rush told the ABC’s 7.30 the AFP ‘will have blood on its hands’ once Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are killed.
The Indonesian police had been tipped off by their Australian counterparts, who sent them most of the names and flight details of the Bali Nine.
Prior to their dramatic arrests, Brisbane barrister Bob Myers had appealed to the federal police on behalf of Scott Rush’s father, Lee Rush, believing the police could help the family.
Mr Myers was responding to a request from Mr Rush, who had discovered his son was heading to Indonesia.
“My thought immediately was that perhaps (Scott Rush) was going to be smuggling drugs into Indonesia and exposing himself to the death penalty,” Mr Myers said.
“Lee was begging me to do something and in effect I was conveying that notion of Lee’s to the AFP and they just really ignored it,” he said.
Mr Myers said his federal police contact assured him Scott Rush would be intercepted before leaving Australia, but just days later he was arrested along with the other drug smugglers in Bali.
“I accepted when the AFP said what they were going to do they would have done it. But as it now transpires they didn’t want me to mess up their sting in effect,” he said.
Mr Myers said the federal police had an obligation not to put Australian citizens in danger of the death penalty.
“Why was the AFP prepared to sacrifice nine Australian lives?”
AFP must explain: Bob Carr
Last week, the former foreign minister Bob Carr weighed into the debate, saying the AFP needed to explain themselves.
However, senior officers have said very little, citing sensitivities around efforts to secure clemency for Chan and Sukumaran.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton has hinted the AFP may eventually reveal more about its role in the case.
“The AFP does not have blood on its hands,” he told reporters last week.
“We agree in terms of Mr Carr’s general point that we need to say more, but the timing around when we say more is most important.
He said the AFP was best not to talk about that matter publicly until Chan and Sukumaran’s clemency matters were dealt with
AFP now required to consider death penalty
In 2006, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the federal police, rejecting a claim by four of the Bali Nine that police had broken the law by sharing information with the Indonesians.
However, Justice Paul Finn recommended the AFP and the Federal Government review the procedures and protocols around international cooperation, which were updated in 2009.
Under the current AFP guidelines, senior police must consider whether sharing information with foreign agencies will put Australians at risk of the death penalty.
After a person has been arrested or detained for, charged with or convicted of a death penalty offence, the AFP must seek ministerial approval.
Indonesia observers in Australia said allowing the AFP to share information with their foreign counterparts in death penalty cases contradicts Australia’s stance against capital punishment.
Professor Damien Kingsbury from Deakin University said the AFP could have also arrested the Bali Nine when they arrived in Australia.
“The situation in 2005 is inexplicable and frankly inexcusable,” Professor Kingsbury said.
“A very significant proposition of responsibility for the impending deaths of Chan and Sukumaran lies at the feet of the AFP.”
Recently elected Indonesian president Joko Widodo has taken a hardline approach to drug offenders on death row.
Associate Professor Greg Fealy from the Australian National University said the AFP should take greater care with death penalty cases, especially under president Widodo’s rule.