The allegations reported today by Fairfax and Mark Davis relating to the sentencing of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran raise the most serious concerns about the process by which the two Australian men were sentenced to death by an Indonesian court. Their lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, has stated that the judges in the case sought bribes to impose a sentence of under 20 year, then sought significantly greater bribes when they were pressured to impose the death penalty.
The claims are untested, are at this point unbacked by evidence and have previously been denied by the judges. But if the executions of Chan and Sukumaran –perhaps scheduled for as early as tomorrow night — go ahead, they will do so in circumstances where there can be no faith that the Indonesian legal system has delivered anything like justice. A stay on the executions and a comprehensive investigation of Rifan’s claims must be put in place by the Indonesian government.
Australia and Indonesia plainly differ sharply on the merits of capital punishment. But surely the possibility of most blatant graft and corruption by the judges involved in this case requires even Indonesia to recognise that the executions of the men must now give way to a proper review of the circumstances in which they were sentenced not to 15-17 years, as allegedly proposed by the judges, nor 20 years, as settled on in a corrupt deal, but to death.