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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 10:04 GMT
Bali three win execution appeal
Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen (L), Matthew Norman (C) and Si Yi Chen, 15/02/06
The three have been in jail since 2005
Three Australians convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia have had death sentences commuted to life in prison.

Defence lawyers argued that the men - members of the so-called Bali Nine - deserved leniency because they were young and were not repeat offenders.

Indonesia's Supreme Court accepted the arguments and overturned its own 2006 decision to mete out the death penalty.

The nine - eight men and one woman - were arrested in Bali in April 2005 with more than 8.3kg (18lb) of heroin.

Further appeals

Matthew Norman, Thanh Duc Tan Nguyen and Si Yi Chen - each said to have been a courier rather than a mastermind of the operation - were each sentenced to life imprisonment after their initial trial.

On appeal, this was reduced to 20 years in jail.

But Indonesian prosecutors appealed against that sentence, and the Supreme Court instituted the death penalty against the three.

This week's case review, heard by a different set of Supreme Court judges, overturns the previous rulings and reinstates the life sentences.

Three of the group still face the death penalty for their role in the importation.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, said to be the ringleaders, and Scott Rush, one of the couriers, have yet to lodge their own case review appeals against the death penalty.

Mr Rush's lawyer, John North, told ABC News in Australia that his client's prospects had improved dramatically.

"That therefore leaves Scott in a unique position, which he's always been in, as being the only one of the airport couriers who has received the death sentence," he said.

The other three members of the group are serving lengthy prison terms.

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

SEE ALSO
Bali trio lose execution dispute
30 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Bali Australians now face death
06 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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