Last Update: Wednesday, September 6, 2006. 10:29am (AEST)
Downer to support clemency pleas for Bali nine
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says the Australian Government would support clemency pleas, if reports that four more of the Bali nine have been sentenced to death are confirmed.
Fairfax newspapers are reporting that the Indonesia Supreme Court has extended the death sentence to Scott Rush, Tan Duc Tahn Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman.
The four had lodged appeals seeking lighter sentences but those were appealed by prosecutors.
Two other Bali nine members, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were given death sentences at their original trials.
Mr Downer says he hopes Australian embassy officials in Indonesia will be able to confirm today whether the newspaper reports are accurate or not.
But he has told Southern Cross Radio that if the Indonesian Court has handed down the death sentence, the four Australians could seek a judicial review and appeal for clemency.
"It's possible for those who have been sentenced to death to appeal for clemency and in those circumstances the Australia Government would certainly support those applications for clemency," he said.
Mr Downer says it is not unusual for the Indonesian Supreme Court to increased sentences.
"It isn't all that unusual when people appeal to the Indonesian Supreme, for sentences to be toughened rather than overturned," he said.
"That, for example, happened with Schapelle Corby."
The Australian ambassador in Indonesia will today meet the head of that country's Supreme Court to try to confirm the reports.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the Australian ambassador will also meet the Indonesian Department of Law and Justice to seek confirmation.
The families of the four have not been officially informed of the verdicts, nor have their lawyers.
A friend of Scott Rush's family, Brisbane barrister Bob Myers, says the news is devastating.
He says Justice Minister Chris Ellison and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty should resign if more of the Bali nine are sentenced to death.
"They should never have allowed their federal police officers to expose the individuals to the death penalty in the first place," he said.
"They had sufficient evidence on their activities to have arrested them prior to them ever leaving Australia.
"They would have been subjected to the laws that we want our people to be subjected to, not to a foreign country that still insists on the imposition of the death penalty."
Liberal Party backbencher Don Randall says Australian travellers are always in the hands of other countries' laws.
But he says he has a lot of sympathy for those involved.
"We always know that executions are quite barbaric," he said.
"I'd actually want them to get on with the executions if they have to get on with executions of the Bali bombers.
"They seem to be taking an awful long time to deal with them, they seem to be a bit more motivated when it comes to the Australian prisoners."
In other developments: