They knew they were taking a risk says Richard

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Caption: Twitter/@Daily_Express

A fusillade of high velocity rifle bullets to the chest and one more drugs trafficker caught by the Indonesian authorities slumped lifeless from his wooden stake.

In all, eight men convicted of serious drugs offences were executed on Wednesday night.

The firing squad commander gave the condemned the option of standing or kneeling before being executed.

Reportedly all stood – and all refused the blindfolds offered.

A pastor administering the last rights to them said many sang songs together just before they died.

The next day Canberra withdrew its ambassador from Indonesia in protest – two of the shot prisoners were Australian – and governments around the world condemned the executions as both brutal and pointless.

And yet… Look. I’ve opposed the death penalty, whatever the crime, whatever the circumstances, all my life.

There is no reliable evidence that it reduces serious offending, and it is a mathematical certainty that from time to time completely innocent people will be shot, hanged, gassed, poisoned, garrotted or beheaded. No criminal justice system is perfect.

At least falsely convicted lifers can be released and compensated.

The wrongly executed are a long time dead.

But sovereign governments must be allowed their own arrangements concerning what they – and their populations – view as capital crimes.

The vast majority of Indonesians are deeply concerned that their tropical paradise is falling under the deadly sway of international drugs barons.

There is popular support for the death penalty for traffickers. That’s just how it is.

Unmissable signs at Jakarta Airport warn arriving passengers that the penalty for drug-dealing is execution.

In the wider international drugs community no one is in the slightest doubt that a “bust” in Indonesia will almost certainly result in being tied to a stake and shot.

Which is why there are huge profits to be made there, especially in class-A drugs such as heroin. It’s the old supply and demand equation.

Because of the potentially fatal consequences of being caught, supply is low, demand is high and to the bold, the stupid and the venal it’s worth taking a risk (seven of the eight executed men were foreigners).

So while Australia and Western democracies wag their fingers and shake their heads and people like me are sickened by the ruthless liquidation of a bunch of mostly stupid, greedy and reckless – I was going to say “kids” but almost all the traffickers shot through the heart on Wednesday were middleaged men – the message is timeless: “When in Rome…” Or to put it another way: if you choose to tweak the tail of an Indonesian tiger don’t be surprised if it tears you to pieces.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.
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