Southeast Asia
East Timor
Papua New Guinea
US international sexual policies
Sex crimes

Indonesian government investigates judges who let Michelle Leslie off the hook


Leslie probe may delay Bali Nine trials
December 29, 2005

An investigation into the sentencing of Australian model Michelle Leslie could delay the trials of four accused Bali Nine drug mules.

Leslie was handed a three month sentence for possessing two ecstasy tablets in November.

Authorities have since launched an investigation into the lenient sentencing and the judges involved have been called to Jakarta to face a Judicial Commission board next Friday.

The three - chief Judge I Made Sudia, I Gusti Ngurah Astawa and Edi Parulian Siregar - are also sitting on panels for all four Bali Nine drug mules allegedly caught with more than 8 kilos of heroin worth A$4 million strapped to their bodies at Bali airport.

The four are Martin Stephens, Scott Rush, Michael Czugaj and Renae Lawrence. All three judges are presiding over the trials for Rush and Stephens.

Sudia refused to comment on the commission summons when asked by AAP.

But he told the Nusa Bali newspaper he was ready to go to Jakarta any time.

"We are ready to go," he said

"We hope the trip will be on office expenses, but if not I am ready to go anyway."

An Australian consular official involved in the Bali Nine cases said it would be of concern if the judicial commission probe caused a delay in the already lengthy trials underway for Leslie's compatriots.

Rush was back in court on Thursday to hear Stephens testify, telling the judges in Denpasar that the four had only taken part in the failed heroin smuggling attempt because of death threats against themselves and their families.

Stephens told the court that Sydney man Andrew Chan had been the brains behind the heroin shipment and owned the drugs.

He said he and Lawrence had tried to get out of the operation when they realised what they were involved in.

"But he (Chan) said `you've got no choice, all I've got to do is make a phone call to Australia and you'll be dead and your family will be dead'," the former Wollongong bartender said.

"That's why I didn't go to police, that's why I didn't tell anyone."

He said he and Lawrence had not even confided in one another as they both desperately tried to think of a way out.

"We hated each other," Stephens told the court.

"She didn't trust me, I didn't trust her. We only knew each other two weeks."

The Rush trial was adjourned until January 5.

The three-month period which saw Leslie released the next day was at odds with tough jail terms for other drug convicts and much lighter than the 15-year sentence Leslie could have received.

The judges will be asked to explain the relatively light sentence given to Leslie amid widespread accusations of bribery.