Thursday, 27 May 2010


Remember Van Nguyen who was hanged by the Singapore government for drug trafficking in 2005? Remember the piss weak efforts of the Australian government? Alexander Downer, Chris Ellison and John Howard have a lot to answer for and one only hopes their guilty conscious will burn a hole in their tiny, nasty, cold-hard shit encased brains. The whole sickening affair had self righteous MPs walking out rather than having a minute of silence in parliament, pro-government brain dead shock jocks seeking approval for the execution from their vile audience and attempts to use Van’s state sponsored murder to further political careers.

"I believe a lot more could been done both legally and otherwise, by that I mean politically," he[Robert Richter QC] told the Today show.

"We know that the Singapore government is susceptible to pressure, it has not been pressured at all."

Mr Richter said the US and French governments had both successfully intervened when their own citizens were about to be subjected to capital punishment in Singapore, but the Australian government had failed to apply pressure.

He also said that the federal government should have sought Nguyen's extradition from Singapore to Australia weeks ago.

And he described Justice Minister Chris Ellison's remarks that Australia was unable to intervene for extradition as "absurd".

Move forward 10 years and we have the Bali 9, Schapelle Corby etc. who receive similar treatment from the government and public. Does the government do enough for Australian citizens who are subject to inhumane treatment for drug offences from corrupt or barbaric countries? There seems to be a lot of talk from politicians but not much action.

I recently stumbled onto an article(below) and it sparked off an inner rage, built up from years of reading about a mean spirited public and nasty, greasy politicians. The usual suspects were mentioned … Downer, Howard, Rudd etc. Bureaucratic bullshit was mentioned. Breaches of human rights were mentioned. It was another stuff up, in a long list of failures by the Australian government to put the interests of it’s citizens first. 

"I thought I was going home," he said.

However, the Rudd government refused -- telling him it could not reissue the passport because he did not have the required points of identification with him to prove his identity.

"I said, `Hang on a minute, you know who I am, you were the ones who ripped up my passport'," he said.

Why hadn’t I heard of Peter Gray? Where was the public outrage and the marauding media? Five years of his life was taken from him for trumped up heroin charges yet there was hardly a mention of him anywhere. Luckily we have some brave journalists like Nicola Berkovic and Nicolas Perpitch who were prepared to write these revealing articles otherwise we may have never got to read about it. 

Is this one the worst cases of government neglect you have encountered?

Aussie To Return From Mauritius After Heroin Charges Dropped
By Nicolas Perpitch
May 2010

AUSTRALIAN man Peter Gray, who has been held in Mauritius on heroin trafficking charges since 2005, is set to come home after authorities dropped the case against him.

"The euphoria is still there - it hasn't waned yet," Mr Gray, 49, told The Australian from Mauritius, where he has been living on bail after initially spending 16 months in prison.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Mr Gray had agreed to testify in another case as part of a deal to drop the charges. "All charges against Mr Gray have been dropped in the Mauritian Intermediate Court," a DFAT spokesman said.

"Mr Gray will remain in Mauritius to testify as a witness in another court case. He has agreed to this as a condition of his release.

"His lawyers advise the other case may take six weeks or more to be heard."

DFAT said it was not known why the charges were dropped.

Mr Gray has always denied importing heroin. He was arrested in August 2005 on suspicion of heroin trafficking after flying into Mauritius from Bangkok. He had given his telephone number to a woman sitting next to him on the plane, who was later convicted for carrying heroin in the false bottom of a suitcase.

Mauritian police initially put him in solitary confinement for 86 days, with a light burning 24 hours a day, until he was transferred to a maximum security jail, which he has described as "totally disgusting". In December 2006, he was released on bail, but was not allowed to work and depended on money sent by his Perth-based family to survive.

Eighteen months later, he was charged with importing heroin, although that was downgraded to conspiracy to import heroin after the female trafficker admitted in court that police had told her to implicate him.

Mr Gray's family lobbied the federal government to expedite the court hearings, but DFAT said it could not interfere in another country's judicial processes.

Mr Gray's brother, Tony Gray, yesterday cautioned that Peter was not home yet.

"Five years of his life have been taken off him, but he's still over there - anything could happen," he said.

Drug-Accused Aussie Peter Gray Marooned After Being Cut Adrift
By Nicola Berkovic
March 2010

AUSTRALIAN Peter Gray has spent 86 days in solitary confinement, 16 months in jail and almost five years trapped in Mauritius on what he says are trumped-up drug charges.

In a case that has drawn comparisons to those of former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks and the Bali Nine, the Australian government has been accused of putting the wars on terror and drugs above the rights of its citizens.

Lawyers have condemned a decision by the Howard government to cancel Mr Gray's passport without first giving him a chance to respond and after he had been held without charge for almost four months.

And Mr Gray's family has blamed the Rudd government's refusal to reissue the passport for blocking a tiny window of opportunity for him to leave the country.

Mr Gray was arrested by Mauritian police in August 2005 after flying into the country from Bangkok. At the time, he had been living in Johannesburg, South Africa, operating a business creating artificial environments for zoos and other projects around the world. He said the trip had been part of these business dealings. During the flight, he gave a woman he had been sitting next to his telephone number.

Mr Gray, 48, said he later discovered she had been carrying heroin in the false bottom of a suitcase and was eventually convicted and jailed for 12 years.

Former foreign minister Alexander Downer cancelled Mr Gray's passport under the Australian Passports Act 2005, which gives the minister powers to cancel or refuse to reissue a passport where an Australian overseas is accused of a serious offence attracting a penalty of imprisonment for more than 12 months.

In its place, the government gave Mr Gray, who is facing up to 10 years in jail, an A4 piece of paper to use as identification. At the time, he had been moved from solitary confinement to a jail cell about 900mm wide, infested with blood-sucking insects.

"It was a real kick in the teeth," Mr Gray told The Australian in Mauritius. "It's as alone as I've ever felt."

Barrister Stephen Keim SC, who represented Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, said he could see no justification for cancelling the passport of an Australian citizen.

But given such a power existed, it was one that should be exercised "very, very cautiously".

Mr Keim said there were analogies to the cases of former Guantanamo inmates Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, and the Bali Nine, who were caught by Indonesian police for drug offences with the help of the Australian government.

"There have been a number of incidents in which the duty of us as a country to our citizens who are in some kind of trouble has not been given the priority that it should be," he said. "Rightly or wrongly, international security or the war on drugs has been given priority.

"Mamdouh Habib, David Hicks, the Bali Nine -- in all of these cases the rights of Australian citizens were placed at the bottom of the priority list."

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law deputy director Adam McBeth said Mr Gray could challenge the decision to cancel his passport under administrative law because he appeared to have been denied procedural fairness.

Dr McBeth said Australia could also have violated its international law obligations.

He said the Mauritian government appeared to have breached his human rights by holding Mr Gray without trial for so long and by exposing him to double jeopardy.

Australia could have, in turn, breached its human rights obligations by being complicit in those acts.

"There's certainly an argument to say that it has," he said. "But it's a grey area."

Dr McBeth said before taking such a dramatic step as cancelling a passport, the government should have taken into account the impact on human rights -- and if Australian had a human rights act this would be one way of forcing it to do so in future.

"It doesn't mean they should never cancel a passport to co-operate with international investigations," he said.

"But they need to take into account the human rights consequences of doing so and negotiate a better outcome like, in this case, an expedited trial or insisting that he be charged first."

Mr Gray was finally charged three years after arriving with preparing outside Mauritius to traffic heroin into the country.

However, in February last year the case collapsed after the woman refused to testify against Mr Gray, telling the court she had been urged by police to implicate him but he was not involved.

Mr Gray said his lawyer had advised Australian authorities it was best if they did not intervene in his case.

But at this point, he had begged for help and urged officials to reissue his passport.

"I thought I was going home," he said.

However, the Rudd government refused -- telling him it could not reissue the passport because he did not have the required points of identification with him to prove his identity.

"I said, `Hang on a minute, you know who I am, you were the ones who ripped up my passport'," he said.

But Australian officials in Mauritius said they could not help him.

"I was hung out to dry," he said.

Mauritian police then brought fresh charges against him, in what appears to be a clear breach of the rule against double jeopardy. The rule, which is seen as a key human right, protects individuals from being tried or punished twice for the same crime.

Mr Gray now faces charges of conspiring to import heroin with a man he is convinced does not exist. He will face trial on April 7.

However, he said even if he is acquitted, police will have an opportunity to bring fresh charges against him.

Mr Gray's cousin, Carolyn Gray, has been negotiating with the office of Attorney-General Robert McClelland for a loan to pay for better legal representation.

"It's only in the last two weeks that DFAT actually advised us this was available," she said. "I don't know why it's never been suggested."

Mr Gray has been released on bail, but is not allowed to work to support himself. His family in Perth has been sending money to pay for food, rent and other costs, but are now almost broke.

Ms Gray said she blamed the Rudd government for the fact her cousin was still trapped in Mauritius.

"There was this small window where the charges had been dropped and we thought if he had his passport we could've got him out of the country," she said.

"But it vanished. The next charge came in and it felt like we were back at square one. It was devastating."

Mr Gray said he was less confident there had been an opportunity for him to leave. But regardless, he said it was time for the government to do what it could to expedite the case and he was angry it had not done so already. Issuing a personal plea to the Prime Minister to take up the case with his Mauritian counterpart, he said: "Kevin Rudd, please help me get out of here. I'm shocked that I'm still here after four and a half years. I'm an Australian citizen and I'm innocent. I'm here on trumped-up charges. Please, please help me."


Gledwood said...

I have to say if I found myself in a Singapore jail on heroin charges I'd much rather get death than life ~ wouldn't you? I mean, it is not as if they ever let you out, so there is nothing to wait for ~ except death. You may as well get it over and done with quick and easy, with that multi-use noose and electronic trapdoor they use...

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Gleds.

Yep, you would really be weighing up the benefits of death when faced with jail in some shithole country like Singapore or Indonesia.

The authorities in these countries(and most countries) are so far out of step with the people who are the most disadvantaged. State sanctioned murder for drug possession or life imprisonment in subhuman conditions for using drugs is straight out of the dark ages. Just as scary though are the westerners who blindly champion such brutal punishments.

Gledwood said...

Prison is a waste of time.

OK I know you know a lot about this stuff but I'm researching the history of opium/heroin and wondered whether you know anywhere with graphs or figures for world opium or heroin production going back as long as possible (ideally to the opium war)

I was reading the figures for the 2000s. If I were to believe them, then America is using only 2% of the world's heroin supply. The US govt claims Mexico and Colombia between them produce about 15-20 tonnes of heroin p.a.

The UK alone consumes 30 tonnes annually. So either American addicts use far less, which I find difficult to believe or someone is massaging the figures...

I was wondering whether you had any good links. I posted what I had so far up today, my potted history but it was a bit of a rush job