Prosecutors hold up return of West Papua five

Prosecutors hold up return of West Papua five

Canberra Times online 12th of March 2009
Five Australians freed from jail in West Papua have appealed to the Australian Government for help, after Indonesian prosecutors refused to grant authority for them to return home, their lawyer says.

William Scott-Bloxam, 62, his wife Vera, 54, and their friends Karen Burke, 51, Hubert Hofer, 57, and Keith Mortimer, 60, were preparing to return home yesterday after winning an appeal against convictions for illegally entering Indonesia on a light plane last September.

The Merauke District Court on Tuesday announced the decision by the Jayapura High Court to overturn their convictions and to immediately order their deportation to Australia. But the five were stuck yesterday at Mopah Airport in Merauke, West Papua, awaiting clearance from prosecutors, their lawyer Mohammad Rifan said.

''The prosecutor is causing a problem by ignoring the decision of the court, to free the five straight away and allow them to fly back to Australia,'' Mr Rifan said.
''At this time, the plane is ready, but the five of them are staying in the international area at the Mopah airport.''

The head of the Merauke District Prosecutor's Office, Sudirohusodo, said his office was seeking guidance about whether it could appeal against the decision to overturn
the convictions.

''Today we sent a letter to the attorney-general, asking for guidance on a possible Supreme Court appeal and we're still waiting,'' he said.
But Mr Rifan said that under Indonesian law, the prosecutors could not appeal against the high court's decision, which released the defendants from jail and further legal action. AAP