Australia’s police work abroad under spotlight with Indonesia executions

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By Matt Siegel

SYDNEY,  – The case of two Australians on death row Indonesia has cast a spotlight on the foreign work of Australia’s police force, whose tip off their Indonesian counterparts a decade ago was key in their arrest and looming execution by firing squad.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians named as ringleaders of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug-smuggling group, were arrested in 2005 at an airport on the island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin into Australia.

The two are expected to be executed as soon as Tuesday night alongside seven other inmates, despite fierce diplomatic lobbying. Eight of those facing execution are Australia, Nigeria, Brazil and the Philippines.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has stood by its handling of the case, despite public outrage over its decision not to apprehend the nine members of the group in Australia, which does not have the death penalty.

But internal documents released this week under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show federal police did in fact institute significant changes to insure against a re-occurrence of a tip-off similar to that of the Bali case.

Since 2009 a federal minister has been required to sign off before sharing information with foreign agencies that might place Australians at risk of the death penalty, the documents show.

That information, alongside the looming executions of Chan and Sukumaran, has revived a debate about how the AFP can publicly maintain it did nothing wrong.

The AFP did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.