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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 22:00 GMT
Australian men sentenced to death
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at Bali court - 14/2/06
The two were accused of being the masterminds
An Indonesian court has sentenced two Australian men to death by firing squad for playing a key role in attempting to smuggle heroin from the island of Bali.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were convicted of being the masterminds in a group of nine Australians arrested in April last year.

Four others have been given life terms and the rest are yet to be sentenced.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the men's actions had been "stupid" and he would seek clemency.

The high-profile trials are being closely watched in Australia, where many people back the government's opposition to capital punishment.

Ringleaders

The so-called "Bali nine" were convicted of trying to smuggle more than 8.3kg (18lb) of heroin from Indonesia to Australia.

AUSTRALIANS IN OVERSEAS DRUG TRIALS
Feb 2006: 'Bali nine' judgement over alleged plot to smuggle heroin from Bali
Dec 2005: Nguyen Tuong Van executed in Singapore for heroin smuggling
May 2005: Schapelle Corby jailed for 20 years for smuggling marijuana into Bali

Some were detained at Bali's airport with heroin strapped to their bodies while others were arrested in a nearby hotel room.

A three-judge panel at the Denpasar District Court decided on Tuesday that Sukumaran, 24, should face the death penalty for his part in the plan.

In a separate trial, 22-year-old Chan was also told he would go before a firing squad.

Prosecutors had earlier recommended that both men face death for their roles as masterminds of the attempted trafficking operation.

Activists from an Indonesian anti-narcotics group shouted "Hooray! Long live the judges!" when the verdicts were given out.

Judges at Sukumaran's trial said he had been proven "to have ordered or organised the export of first class narcotics from Bali."

A judge at Chan's hearing said his actions "tainted Bali's name as a resort island".

Lawyers for both convicted men said they would appeal.

Two other members of the gang - 29-year-old Martin Stephens and 20-year-old Michael Czugaj - were sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday.

Renae Lawrence and Scott Rush were given life terms on Monday. The three remaining gang members still await sentencing.

Diplomatic tensions

The sentences are likely to inflame tensions between Indonesia and Australia, which abolished the death penalty more than 20 years ago.

Many Australians are angry that, because of a tip-off by the Australian authorities, the gang members were arrested before they boarded their flight in Bali, rather than on arrival in Sydney.

Prime Minister Howard said he hoped "every young Australian... [would] take a lesson" from the sentences in Bali.

"I feel desperately sorry for the parents of these people, I do," he told reporters in Canberra.

"But the warnings have been there for decades and how on earth any young Australian can be so stupid as to take the risk is completely beyond me."

Adding that the sentences were "penalties prescribed by the laws of Indonesia", he said: "I don't think anybody is suggesting that the law wasn't carried out."

Indonesia has increasingly become a transit route for drug traffickers, and courts across the country have toughened up on offenders in recent years, sentencing several foreigners to death for serious drugs offences.

Another Australian, beauty therapist Schapelle Corby, was found guilty of smuggling marijuana into Bali and sentenced to 20 years in jail last May.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the scenes at court when the men were sentenced



SEE ALSO:
Australians jailed for Bali drugs
13 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
'Bali nine' drug trials under way
11 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Corby stirs Australia's 'dark side'
09 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Australian in Bali may face death
24 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific


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