World / Asia-Pacific

Australian police to explain role in Bali Nine arrests

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-30 11:14

CANBERRA - The Australian Federal Police will be called before a parliamentary committee to explain its role in supplying information that led to the executions of two ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug smuggling operation.

Fairfax Media reported on Thursday the AFP, which a decade ago gave information to Indonesian authorities leading to the arrest of nine Australians attempting to smuggle heroin, will be asked to comment in detail for the first time.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he intends to address the issue with AFP officials at upcoming Senate hearings in May. He has also requested the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade examine the matter separately.

"This is not about recriminations - it is about making sure that this never, ever happens again," he told Fairfax Media.

An AFP spokesperson told Fairfax Media it will hold a press conference to answer journalists' questions on their role in the Bali Nine case.

After the executions on Wednesday of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, a lawyer involved in the case, Bob Myers, said the AFP has 'blood on its hands'.

In 2005, a concerned father of one of the Bali Nine alerted Myers to the smuggling operation, who in turn informed the AFP.

With that information, the AFP informed Indonesia to the Bali Nine's plans to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, despite the Bali Nine not having yet departed Australia.

Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death, while another six were given life imprisonment. One, the only woman in the operation, was given 20 years in prison.

The former minister responsible for the AFP at the time, Chris Ellison, told Sky News it was unfair to blame the AFP for the executions of the Bali Nine pair.

Ellison said the AFP were acting within the guidelines it had at the time, a view confirmed by a 2006 review.

After the Bali Nine arrests and in response to public backlash, the AFP guidelines were tightened.

A federal MP has proposed restricting the AFP supplying information to other countries where the death penalty could be imposed.

Clive Palmer said the bill would punish public officials who disclose such information with a minimum of one year jail.

In February, the AFP said it could not choose to only co- operate with countries that have laws similar to Australia.

"If it did, our ability to cooperate with partners in many source and transit countries would be severely hampered," the statement said.

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