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Lasry affected by Nguyen case -

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(generated from captions) Mary Gearin with that report. of the Van Nguyen case, It says something about the nature like Lex Lasry QC that even a seasoned criminal lawyer client's demeanour and predicament. has been emotionally affected by his Melbourne studio a short time ago. I spoke with Mr Lasry in our at this late stage Lex Lasry, realistically for Van Nguyen? is there any hope Kerry, it's slender, as far as we see it and of course, but there's still some hope left and we keep working on it. we cling to that Do you know the last time

granted a plea for clemency the Singapore Government in a death penalty case? Ah well, they've done it, as late in the piece as this, but they've never done it I would accept that. on our present circumstance, So that obviously has some bearing to persuade them but it's not too late that they're making the wrong decision. You've sought the support of the Australian Government today in a meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer

to take the case to the International Court of Justice. Now I know Mr Downer is considering his answer,

but what are the elements he's considering? Well Kerry, the International Court of Justice is a court for countries rather than people.

It's not something that we can activate. Australia as a nation and a member of the United Nations, would have to activate the cause of action and either try to compel Singapore to go to the court or obtain Singapore's consent to the jurisdiction. Now the Government correctly I think are saying, "Well we'll pursue that, "if we can be made to understand that it's viable." It just can't be done on a whim. They have to be persuaded that there is a genuine cause of action. We think there is, and if there is, the matter can be taken before the court. What do you think is the genuine cause of action? There are probably two or three elements to it. The main one is that a mandatory death penalty in the circumstances that apply to our client is a breach of international human rights law. There are plenty of cases to indicate that that's so, and a breach of several of the United Nations' conventions. We also have open, I think the argument, that hanging as a method of execution is a grossly inhuman and cruel and I think that's almost self-evident.

And there may be another avenue through another convention in relation to transnational organised crime which may enable us to compel Singapore to go to the court. It's fair to say, though isn't it, that if you're looking for Singapore's cooperation to go to the international court that they're hardly going to agree to something which in the end could rebound on their entire approach to the death penalty - not just in this case?

Singapore have said a number of times that the process in this case has been open, transparent and fair. If that's the case and if they have no problem in defending their process, then they ought to be amenable to that issue being determined within the International Court of Justice. n h t w l o s m x e t determine how fair and transparent the process is. And to the extent that you might hold out some hope to compel them to appear before the international court and participate in that, what grounds do you have to compel them? Well under some conventions to which Singapore adhere,

it may be that their appearance before the international court is compulsory the convention and that by having signed in the process. they are obliged to take part of the United Nations. Singapore is a member using the international court Singapore at present are in a dispute with Malaysia. and indeed as a matter of logic, So as a matter of principle the court to determine this issue. they ought to be amenable to you've seen Alexander Downer, But on the same day that to the media, hasn't he, I think he's indicated is all but a lost cause? that he thinks this case sentiment he's expressed today. I think that's certainly the thing that he's been saying. That's the kind of being cautious about this, I understand the Government a country to take another country because it's a big step for to the international court. if the option is open But by the same token, then obviously they should do so, and the basis for it is solid help we could to facilitate that. and we would offer them whatever it is about this case What do you think in Australia that has won public support seems to have done? in the way that Van Nguyen don't often win public sympathy, Because drug smugglers circumstances, do they? even in exceptional thought about the case understand Kerry, I think people who've out of proportion to what he did that this penalty is grossly also recognise the unfairness and I think people being sentenced to death in a young man of 24, 25 to say to an independent judge without being given the chance he shouldn't be executed. why in his case are appalled at the prospect I also think that people so much to offer that a young man with at the end of a rope. is potentially going to die I think that offends anyone about human rights. with a scintilla of concern

you have come to know? Describe the Van Nguyen that a quite dramatic transformation Well, our client has gone through into his wrongdoing, with a significant insight for people around him an amazing compassion who are affected by his conduct, and, of course, a willingness to assist authorities and spiritual insight a young man now with a religious to the community. who would be of great value

of transformations I suspect those sorts occur regularly on death rows,

a transformation like this but I've never seen now for 32 years and I've been in the criminal law with a lot of clients. and I've sat in a lot of cells and at this stage in my career This young man is quite remarkable and by his rehabilitation. I'm inspired by his courage and a privilege to have seen. It's just been amazing to watch to stay emotionally detached I know lawyers are supposed from their client's cases, in this instance? but has that been possible to know Van fairly well, Not now Kerry, no. I've come as Julian McMahon has. with him over the three years. We've spent many hours

to detach emotionally. It's impossible, I'm afraid, to know and like and respect He's someone I've come very difficult for all of us and Friday week is going to be on that day. if in fact, he loses his life has left today to see Van Nguyen. I understand his twin brother

with him entering Singapore, Was there been any problem identified with this case? given the way he has been No, I don't believe so. He has a passport tonight with his mother and he's travelling to Singapore a bit of time with his brother and will spend, I hope, quite over the next few days. obstacles being put in his way, It's tough enough for him without

but so far no obstacles have been

there should be. and there's no reason why what's happened to his brother? Is he blaming himself for of responsibility and concern, Um, I think he feels a level but I want to be clear about this. the motivations of our client were Whatever his role and whatever when this originally happened, to our client, not his brother. Singapore is doing this to carry a high level of guilt And his brother musn't be allowed our client's execution. on the basis of by the government of Singapore. That's being done to him the execution if it does go ahead, Have you been asked to witness and will you do so? present for the sake of our client. We've asked to be allowed to be under consideration That application is still by the Singapore authorities. for you to come to, Was that a hard decision to put yourself in that position? Very hard. at the prospect, I mean, I'm terrified to him to be there but I think we owe it if they'll let us. for him, and as I said before, It's the least we can do to be drawn from his courage, it's a level of inspiration for us and we do draw that inspiration. for talking with us. Lex Lasry, thanks very much Thanks, Kerry.