The Law vs. The Law of Supply and Demand; capital punishment poster boys and girls
As long as courts in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore -- whose airports are the nearest and cheapest to Australia on the Asian heroin route -- sentence drug smugglers to death (and often go all the way and execute them), this story will predictably keep recurring several times a year. Only the names of the Australians sentenced to death will change.
Like the USA, capital punishment in Australia is largely a state-by-state legislative matter, but one by one every Australian state abolished the death penalty in the last half of the 20th century. The last person Australia executed was Ronald Ryan in 1967. Though the death penalty for murder was abolished in New South Wales in 1955, NSW was the last state to completely abolish the death penalty when in 1985 capital punishment was abolished for treason and piracy. (Facts filched from here where there's more interesting stuff about capital punishment.)
This story will keep recurring because Australia has tens of thousands of heroin addicts and recreational users willing to pay enough to make heroin smuggling a hugely profitable (and untaxed) enterprise. The Law may be the Law, and the Law may imagine that all citizens except a few sociopathic Pirates and Evil Villains will respect and obey the Law.
But they won't and they don't, they never did and they never will. Market economics trumps all law. When buyers want any commodity badly enough to pay enough to make trade profitable, sellers will always find a way to supply the commodity. Some "mules" are unwitting, and smugglers hide drugs in their luggage. (That seems to have been the case with a Canadian woman whom Vietnam executed a few years ago.)
But most mules are willing smugglers, poor people, addicts, students on holiday, lured by a promise of a windfall of cash if they don't get caught. Meanwhile, smuggling takes place against a background paid professional police informants, and mules often arrive at their destination with the police all waiting for them with names, photos, luggage locations.
There's a huge fictional and fact-based movie literature about capital punishment, and a large subsection about young Western people getting the Bright Idea to smuggle drugs home from a Third World country. Though many of these movies do well at the box office ("pretty young innocent women in prison" movies have been very popular since the Silent era), most of them suffer from a deep problem: The hero or heroine is a greedy idiot or a real creep, and the audience has a big problem giving a flying fuck about what happens to them at the end. Even movies about naive young women who fell hopelessly under the hypnotic love spell of an evil male villain have trouble engaging the audience's sympathy (or credibility).
I recommend "Brokedown Palace" with Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale in a Thai prison as an interesting study in the Cinema of "Who Cares?" They're young, they're beautiful, they're Caucasian, they've been to college, they suffer the hopeless torments of hell from a brutal, corrupt and unjust Third-World system -- and who really gives a flying fuck? As you watch their tragedies, you feel more and more resentment toward these dumb twinkies as they yank 101 minutes of undeserved sympathy from you.
If you're not a sympathetic person to start with, excessive fishing for sympathy from strangers can yield exactly the opposite: resentment, the pleasure of seeing an unsympathetic moron get it in the tolchoks. That's the thing about desperately begging for sympathy -- people prefer to give it when they feel it's deserved.
And what goes on in the box office also applies to politics. Only the rough-and-tumble democratic politics of Australia has the slightest chance of saving the lives of these condemned Australian smugglers. If the votes and public demand are there, the Australian government can diplomatically horse-trade with its economically intertwined neighbors Indonesia or Malaysia, and save the odd Ozzie from the hangman.
But if the Australian public yawns at the busted smuggler's plight, and even yawns at the pleas from the prisoner's distraught parents, Australia's leaders just go through the motions, make a routine public statement of regret, and let the condemned man or woman just twist in the wind.
Everywhere in the world that still executes human beings, the politics of the Death Penalty regularly have to rise or fall on the television images and tabloid stories of who these people were and what they're convicted of having done.
It should be all about the Act of Capital Punishment itself -- America's big t-shirt that loudly tells the world "We're Crazy and Bloodthirsty!"
But it's not just about the Act. An awful lot of it is about the Actors. And they're often a very hard bunch to ask people to love and try to save.
If all appeals fail, Scott Rush faces an Indonesian firing squad.
The Australian (national broadsheet / Murdoch)
Saturday 9 September 2006
Bali mule begs
for Canberra support
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent, in Bali
HEROIN mule Scott Rush has made an impassioned plea from Bali's Kerobokan jail for "more support" from the Australian Government as he fights a death sentence handed down this week from Jakarta.
In a hand-written letter given to his Indonesian lawyer yesterday, Rush said it was "unbelievable and outrageous" that the Indonesian court system had "given the participants to the Bali bombings less time than they have given to me."
Three men were sentenced this week to between eight and 18 years' jail for peripheral roles in the attacks on October 1 last year that killed 23 people, including four Australians.
Rush's lawyer Robert Khuana said his client had asked him to have the statement published on a website maintained by his parents, Lee and Christine Rush, in Brisbane.
The website, found at www.scottarush.com.au
this very thorough, interesting and passionate site]
is an attempt to drum up money and public support as Rush, who was arrested at Denpasar airport last year with almost 1.7 kilograms (3.75 pounds) of heroin strapped to his body, tries to depict himself as "only a victim of an organised syndicate."
The heroin was to be smuggled to Australia, where it is estimated it could have fetched A$500,000 (U$380,000) on the street.
Rush's statement said he felt he was "the victim of a vicious judicial system that looks upon me as one of the organisers or one of the terrorists."
Rush was sentenced in the Denpasar District Court last year to life imprisonment, a punishment that stood on appeal in the Bali High Court.
However, Mr Khuana said he had high hopes the latest appeal decision, in the Indonesian Supreme Court, could be overturned in a judicial review that re-examines the case and potentially produces a new verdict.
Rush's statement does not specify what kind of support he hopes for from the Government, but suggests that with it "more doorways and opportunities could be opened."
He is not shying away from creating opportunities of his own, with the website offering silver jewelry for sale and details of a trust account for supporters to deposit money via an Australian bank or alternatively through the Paypal internet payment service.
© The Australian
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
22 April 2005
Lawyer: why arrest them in Bali?
Political undertones may have been at play when nine Australians were arrested in Bali on drug trafficking charges, a prominent criminal lawyer said today.
Rob Stary, a criminal lawyer of 25 years and head of Robert Stary and Associates, said the question had to be asked as to why the nine were intercepted in Indonesia when the intended destination of the drugs was Australia.
"There's certainly a school of thought that says that there's a political aspect to that process," he said.
Indonesian police arrested the nine Australians, eight men and one woman, on Sunday, allegedly finding a total of 11.25 kilograms of heroin.
"I find it extraordinary that, if the intended destination of the drugs was to Australia, why it is that they were intercepted in Indonesia and not in Australia," Mr Stary told ABC radio.
"At least by intercepting them here, intelligence could have been gained in terms of understanding the network distribution in this country, by trying to identify who, higher up in the chain, is responsible for importation.
"It's completely inconceivable that the nine people that have been arrested are the only nine people involved."
"There's plenty of speculation that perhaps these young people are sacrificial lambs in that - in terms of a new-found relationship between Australian and Indonesian authorities - the Indonesians can accept the kudos for the interception, rather than the Australians."
He suggested a possible connection to the case of Australian Schapelle Corby, who is facing a jail sentence of up to a life term, for allegedly carrying 4.1 kilograms (9 pounds) of marijuana into Bali.
"Dare I say it, although people have not said there's any association or link with the Corby case, well, there may well be," Mr Stary said.
"There's enormous pressure, publicly, in Australia that Ms Corby, if she's found guilty of her alleged offence, that she not receive the death penalty.
"It's much more palatable to suggest that people who have been involved in large-scale, commercial importation of heroin, a much more deadly narcotic, be subject to the death penalty.
"That may be seen to be the quid pro quo."
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Part of the series on Australian criminals
Scott Anthony Rush is a former Australian labourer from Chelmer, Queensland, a western suburb of Brisbane, arrested on April 17, 2005 at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia with heroin weighing 1.3 kg taped to his legs under his clothing. It was Rush's first trip to Bali. Rush was 19 at the time of his arrest. He is currently studying the Indonesian language.
On February 13, 2006, Rush, who appeared in court for sentencing wearing a wooden crucifix around his neck, was sentenced to life imprisonment  Rush appealed this sentence, and on September 6, 2006, his sentence was upgraded to the death penalty. 
During his schooling years, Rush was expelled from Brisbane's St Laurence's College during his Year 10 studies relating to a drug-related incident. Rush was using cannabis at the age of 15 and has also used heroin, ecstasy and prescription drugs. A report compiled by the Queensland Community Corrections Department stated "Rush's drug choice is amphetamines. He first began using amphetamines three years ago at the age of 17. He stated that his method of use has always been intravenous."
During December 2004 Rush pleaded guilty at the Inala Magistrates' Court to 16 offences including drug possession, fraud, theft and drink-driving. A warrant for his arrest in Australia is currently outstanding relating to AUD$4796.95 stolen from the Commonwealth Bank .
Arrest in Indonesia
On April 17, 2005, Scott Rush was arrested by Indonesian police and found to be carrying 1.3kg of heroin strapped to his legs underneath his clothing. Three other Australians were also apprehended, and another, Andrew Chan, was arrested whilst seated on a plane waiting to depart.
Later, four Australians were arrested in raids in Kuta.
Fellow accused and friend, Michael Czugaj has testified he travelled to Bali with Rush. Czugaj alleges Rush introduced him to Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, also facing trial, whilst socialising in Brisbane. Czugaj states Nguyen offered them both a free holiday to Bali. When asked why he chose to travel to Bali on a paid holiday, Rush replied "Basically we got the response that he (Nguyen) didn't have anyone to come to Bali with him". Nguyen has refused to testify. Czugaj confirmed Rush's account of events as being true .
Czugaj testified he and Rush had never met fellow accused Renae Lawrence or Martin Stephens, both of New South Wales until they were all arrested together at Ngurah Rai Airport, and has accused fellow suspect Andrew Chan of strapping the heroin to his body whilst wearing rubber gloves. Rush told the court Chan told him "You do as I say, don't mess around with me. I've got a gun with me and I could kill you. If I wanted to, I could kill you right now" . Chan has protested his innocence, saying before the court, "A lot of lies have been set against me, but the true reality is I'm not what people put me out to be. I've never threatened anybody in my life" .
During court proceedings, Rush initially refused to handle strapping material admitted as evidence, saying "No no," before agreeing to handle the evidence after being urged by the judge. 
On February 13, 2006, Rush was sentenced to life imprisonment. Family friend, Neil Urquhart, was quoted in response to the life sentence imposed on Rush,
"We know he's guilty of it, but you know in Australia, the sentencing is totally different. All right, so he's in a different country and I suppose by rights, you should obey the laws of the country and you've got to accept what they say. But it's a bit harsh." 
On September 5, 2006, it was reported in several Australian newspapers that Rush and three of the other Bali Nine had been sentenced to death upon appealing their original sentences. This was later confirmed as being true.
Criticisms of Australian Federal Police tipoff
Rush's father, Lee Rush, said he contacted the Australian Federal Police in April 2005 fearing his son was travelling to Bali and would commit a drug related crime. Lee Rush claims then to have received assurances from the AFP that they would tell his son he was under surveillance to dissuade him from going through with the crime. Scott Rush's lawyers said he was never contacted.
Rush has brought an action in the Federal Court of Australia in Darwin against the AFP for breach of the bilateral treaty between Indonesia and Australia when information was handed by the AFP to the Indonesians. Such information should only be released by the Attorney-General. However, the Commonwealth Government maintains that the treaty only applies after a suspect is charged . The application was dismissed by the Federal Court in January, 2006.
During February 2006, Rush's parents gave an interview to Australian Broadcasting Commission television program, Australian Story, speaking out against Australian Federal Police actions.
"I was informed at 1.30 in the morning that Scott would be spoken to and asked not to board the flight to Bali. It wasn't until about mid-morning that I received a call from Bob and a distressed tone in his voice he said, 'Mate, we could not stop him, they have let him go through and he's on his way to Bali'. Under no circumstances do I condone the trafficking of drugs -- I particularly dislike drugs of any nature, always have. When I received a call from the Australian Government authorities that Scott had been detained in Indonesia for attempting to export heroin, I was speechless, sickened to the gut."
Rush's mother, Christine Rush, also spoke of her disappointment with the Australian Federal Police. "I feel very let down by our Australian Federal Police -- we tried to lawfully stop our son leaving the country, it wasn't done." .
The interview aired on ABC's Australian Story on February 13, 2006.
Rush is serving his term of imprisonment in Indonesia. He receives AUD$125 per month under a prisoner loan scheme from the Australian Federal Government. Rush is accommodated in a single cell, and has access to a mobile phone .
* List of Australians in international prisons
* List of Australian criminals
* List of famous drug smugglers
Wikinews has news related to:
Bali Nine refused access to federal police files
* Taxes pay for Bali Nine mule
* Lawrence, Rush set to appeal life sentences, Australian Broadcasting Commission, February 14, 2006
* Rush parents silent on record
* Rush committed 16 crimes: report, Sydney Morning Herald, February 14, 2006
* Bali mule's drug past revealed
* Bali Nine's Rush gets life, The Australian, February 13, 2006
* Rush family claim AFP assisted Indonesian authorities, Australian Broadcasting Commission, February 13, 2006
* Bali accused's family speak of anger at AFP, Australian Broadcasting Commission, February 13, 2006
* Rush's parents break their silence, Herald Sun, February 13, 2006
* Father 'tried to stop Bali 9 trip'
* Lawyers seek charges to extradite Bali nine
* Bali Nine death warning
* Rush re-enacts drug smuggling in court
* Smuggle or die, Bali Nine 'told'
* Rush testifies against Lawrence in Bali Nine trial
* Bali accused Rush tells of heroin strapping
* Prosecuters seek life for Rush
Andrew Chan | Si Yi Chen | Michael Czugaj | Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen | Matthew Norman
Renae Lawrence | Scott Rush | Martin Stephens | Myuran Sukumaran
Categories: 1986 births | Australian drug traffickers | Indonesian prisoners and detainees | Living people | People from Brisbane | Prisoners sentenced to death
* This page was last modified 10:43, 7 September 2006.
* All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.)
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.