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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19893

Mr BAIRD (2:56 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Would the minister update the House on the verdict in the Samudra trial in Bali yesterday? What does this mean to the fight against terror?

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for McMillan!

Mr DOWNER (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —I thank the member for Cook for his question and for his interest. The government welcomes the decision by the Indonesian court to convict and sentence Imam Samudra. Samudra was found guilty of planning an act of terrorism, funding terrorism, illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and detonating explosive devices. He was sentenced to death. Samudra has been described as Jemaah Islamiah's field commander in the Bali bombing operation. He was a key figure with links to Hambali, who the House will know has recently been arrested in Thailand, and with close links to Abu Bakar Bashir. Samudra's acts were those of a violent, brutal criminal and should be condemned without qualification. His acts have nothing to do with Islam.

The verdict should, I think, bring some comfort to Samudra's victims and the families of those who were killed in the attack. Samudra's was the fifth conviction to date relating to the Bali attack. I think these convictions have successfully started the process of sending a strong signal to terrorists not just in Indonesia or South-East Asia but in the world over that the international community will not sit back and allow them to strike with impunity. As I said in the House yesterday, the Australian Federal Police have cooperated very closely with their colleagues in Indonesia and they have had unprecedented cooperation in investigating the Bali bombing. I think the AFP deserve a great deal of credit for and indeed congratulations on the outstanding work that they have done in the Bali inquiry.

It is not, of course, the policy of the Australian government to support the death penalty, and the government's acceptance of the sentence does not mean that we have changed our policy. But in these particular circumstances we will not be making any representations against the sentence to the Indonesian government. As the House knows, that is the position we took in relation to Amrozi and it is the position we are taking in relation to Samudra. If others are found guilty of and sentenced for the same or like offences in relation to the Bali bombing then we will take the same position in those cases as well. I welcome Samudra's conviction as another important step forward in the war against terrorism.