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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 5876

Senator SANDY MACDONALD (2:50 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison. Minister, will you update the Senate on the recent significant developments in the joint investigation by Australian and Indonesian law enforcement agencies to hunt down those responsible for the Bali bombings and bring them to justice?

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —I thank Senator Sandy Macdonald for what is a very important question and one which all Australians will be vitally interested in. In the short time since the Bali bombing, there has been strong progress made in relation to the investigation. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that law enforcement in Australia did not expect the progress to be as it has been. Of course, this is a complex investigation—a big investigation—and one which has now resulted in a suspect, Amrozi, being held in the custody of the Indonesian police and making various admissions in relation to the transportation and manufacture of the bomb concerned. Another person has also been arrested—Mr Sylvester Tendean, a shop owner in Surabaya—in relation to the supply of chemicals allegedly used to produce the bomb. Other people have been detained and are being questioned by the Indonesian police.

The Australian Federal Police continue to have an essential role in this investigation and, although not having access to Amrozi, who is being held at the moment, the Australian Federal Police are happy with the evidence that is being provided and have stated that this has been a significant development and one which has resulted in new lines of inquiry. Apart from the statements made by Mr Amrozi, there have been other corroborating facts dealing with the vehicle concerned and the premises which are alleged to have been used for the manufacture of the bomb. The Australian Federal Police forensic team has been working closely with the Indonesians, and the AFP continue to be the lead foreign agency in relation to law enforcement in this matter. We have to remember that this investigation is being conducted on Indonesian soil and within Indonesian jurisdiction.

It is believed that the suspect Amrozi was in possession of the Mitsubishi L300 van which carried the bomb and that there is other evidence to corroborate what he has said to the Indonesian police. As well as the investigation by the Australian Federal Police, AUSTRAC is also involved. AUSTRAC is the foremost anti-money laundering agency in Australia and is widely acknowledged internationally as being excellent in detecting money laundering. Financing is the lifeblood of terrorism and AUSTRAC is working on this matter. It has identified a number of transactions of interest and is pursuing its investigations.

Importantly in relation to disaster victim identification, I can report to the Senate that there are some 55 victims who have been repatriated to their next of kin. That figure is a substantial one. To date, 63 Australians have been identified as dead. We have had four deaths in Australia and there was one cremation in Bali, which brings that figure to five, plus the 58 who have been identified in Bali, so that is a total of 63. Of that, 55 have been repatriated. We will continue to deal with the remaining situation, where we have concerns for 23 Australians who are still missing. Our experts in Bali are continuing to carry on the disaster victim identification. We appreciate the anxiety of those who are awaiting news of those people, but we do believe the work that has been done to date has been excellent and the progress has been significant. There are other aspects to this affair and they are being pursued. (Time expired)