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Saturday, 29 September 2007

Families slam bid to save Bali bombers

Australians who lost relatives and mates in the 2002 Bali bombings say they're disgusted by an Amnesty International campaign to save three of the bombers from execution.

The Australian arm of the human rights group is urging people to lobby Indonesian authorities to stop the executions as part of Amnesty's ongoing campaign against capital punishment.

The three bombers - who played key roles in the attacks that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians - could face the firing squad soon after Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected their final appeals.

Amnesty International Australia anti-death penalty coordinator Tim Goodwin said the group was ramping up pressure on Indonesian authorities to stay the executions.

"Amnesty is completely and universally opposed to the death penalty in any case," Goodwin said.

The group's website urges Australians to write to Indonesia's ambassador in Australia, calling for the death sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment.

The call comes just days before Australians and Balinese will gather on Monday for the second anniversary of the October 1, 2005 Bali bombings.

Those attacks killed 20 people, including four Australians and 17 other Australians were injured.

Goodwin acknowledged the campaign to save the 2002 bombers could be controversial in Australia.

"I think it will be for some people that want to see the death penalty (carried out)," he said.

"It raises a lot of very difficult issues - these are horrific crimes we are talking about.

"But this is about upholding the value of human rights, not picking and choosing which people deserve to die."

Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission chairman Idfhal Kasim expressed support for the move, saying the death penalty was "unacceptable".

"A request from Amnesty International or other human rights organisations is like moral pressure on the government to change their policy about this punishment," he said.

But Australians who lost loved ones in 2002 are stunned.

NSW Coogee Dolphins member Eric de Haart, whose teammates Clint Thompson and Josh Iliffe died in the blasts, said he was "gobsmacked".

"I honestly can't believe they would expect anyone who has had anything to do with Bali, or who has been associated with Bali, to support that motion," de Haart said.

"That's just beyond belief."

He said the bombers had laughed at their crimes and had shown no remorse.

"There certainly couldn't have been anyone from Amnesty International walking through the morgue like I did, trying to sort through body parts trying to identify my mates."

Indonesian authorities have been tightlipped on when the executions will be carried out, but have indicated Bali is unlikely to be the site for security reasons.

A lawyer for the trio, Achmad Michdan, foreshadowed a formal complaint about the recent Supreme Court verdict, questioning the fairness of the judgement.

He said he had visited the trio two weeks ago.

"They are just waiting, but they are relaxed," Michdan said.

"If they are to be executed, they just want to be executed under the Islamic law.

"And they are ready because they will meet the prophet Mohammad, the mujahids, and beautiful virgins."

Bagelblogger: Or they will meet a delusional pedophile some other loonies and get to share 72 white raisins. - You have to wonder when someone is so delusional that they actually think they will be welcomed and rewarded for killing innocents in such a way.

The Age: Families slam bid to save Bali bombers


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