Australian police defend involvement in Bali execution case

Australia’s police force has defended its involvement in tracking an international drug smuggling network that culminated in the execution of two Australians by firing squad in Indonesia last week.

The role of the Australian Federal Police has been widely criticised at home, with many arguing the police should have prevented some of the ‘Bali Nine’ from leaving Australia instead of tipping off their Indonesian counterparts.

Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said investigating officers knew that the Australians would be exposed to arrest — and potentially the death penalty, which Australia does not have — when they asked Indonesia to monitor the group.

However, Australian police did not have enough evidence to arrest any of the group before they left, he said, adding that police also needed to trace the entire network to break the heroin smuggling ring.

“Decisions like this aren’t taken lightly,” Colvin told reporters in Canberra. “They’re agonising decisions.”

“We can’t apologise for the role we have in trying to stop drug importation.”

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Australians who were named as ringleaders of the Bali Nine, were arrested in 2005 at an airport on the island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8kg of heroin to Australia.

The pair were executed last week, alongside six other drug smugglers from several countries, despite strong international criticism of Indonesia’s use of the death penalty. The other seven men and women who made up the Bali Nine are serving long jail sentences in Indonesia.

The Australian Federal Police has defended its involvement previously but had stayed quiet in the run-up to the executions last week. It was revealed on the eve of the executions that police had since made significant changes to insure against similar cases.


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