Bishop Harris supports plea for reduced sentences

Renae Lawrence during this week’s press conference in which she pleaded for the early release of the remaining Bali 9 members (Sky News Australia)

Townsville Bishop Tim Harris has expressed his support for Bali Nine member Renae Lawrence as she pleaded for reduced and determinant sentences for her fellow drug smugglers. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Ms Lawrence, the only female member of the Bali Nine, was released last year after 13 years in various prisons for her role in a foiled drug-smuggling operation in Indonesia in 2005.

Her plea was aimed at Indonesian Prime Minister Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Mr Widodo’s state visit to Australia this week.

She said fellow smugglers Matthew Norman, Michael Czugaj, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Si Yi Chen were all “young men” when they were arrested.

Ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were sentenced to death and executed on April 25, 2015.

Ms Lawrence said she continued to worry for the remaining men, who she said should be given determinant sentences. They face lifetime prison terms with no chance of release.

“Their families constantly travel to Indonesia to visit their sons at great expense, yet their anguish remains and as each year goes by these young men are losing hope,” Ms Lawrence said.

“We acknowledge that we did the wrong thing and we continue to apologise to the Indonesian government and the citizens of Indonesia and Australia and its people for our stupidity.

“If it was possible that they were granted a determinant sentence (then) that hope would return.”

Ms Lawrence said if a determinant sentence was not possible, a prisoner exchange between Australia and Indonesia should be considered.

Taking to Twitter last Sunday, Bishop Harris gave his support to Ms Lawrence’s plea.

“I support Renae Lawrence as she calls for reduced sentences for the remaining Bali Nine members,” he said. “Justice has been well and truly served. Now it is time for mercy.”

Bishop Harris, who spoke to The Catholic Leader last month on this issue, said after so long in prison, “I would have thought there was a feeling of no hope amongst them”.

“You just leave these people languishing in a foreign prison for another six or seven or eight years, what’s the point? Bring them home.”


Townsville bishop supporting freed Bali Nine member’s plea to shorten sentences (The Catholic Leader

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