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Legal push to prevent executions

Briefs

Cite as: March 2015 89 (3) LIJ, p.16

Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry has publicly opposed the execution of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. 

In February, Justice Lasry visited the men on death row in Indonesia offering his support, and spoke at a vigil in Federation Square.

“We see this weird arrangement where the Constitutional Court and the Indonesian Supreme Court are at odds over what should happen in these sorts of cases,” Justice Lasry said.

“What we have is Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan transformed, rehabilitated to the point where they spend their time, even in the recent weeks when they’ve been under obvious pressure that their death is imminent, helping other prisoners in the Kerobokan Prison. “No one says they shouldn’t be punished for what they’ve done. They don’t say that, they just want their lives – and of course, it’s not just them, it’s their families.”

As a barrister, Justice Lasry represented Australian Van Nguyen who was executed in Singapore 10 years ago for possessing less than 400 grams of heroin. He was hanged.

When he was contacted by Myuran’s brother Chintu Sukumaran, appealing for help, the judge immediately called Melbourne barrister Julian McMahon and said, “Here we go again”.

Another vigil, for members of the Geelong legal profession, was held mid-February. It was organised by Monash Law School professor Adrian Evans. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have been on death row in Bali since 2006. They were found guilty of trying to smuggle more than 8kg of drugs out of Indonesia. The pair were sentenced to death by firing squad.

LIV president Katie Miller said: “There is nothing more fundamental to humanity than life and the state should not take it away. The death penalty harms us all,” she said. “We appreciate the efforts of Australian lawyers, particularly members of the Victorian legal community, who have worked tirelessly to try to save the lives of these young men. I urge them to continue their invaluable, hopeful work.” The LIV policy statement on the use of the death penalty is available at http://tinyurl.com/pukmrxq.

The Law Council of Australia also voiced its opposition to the death penalty and the death sentences imposed on the two Australians.

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