Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Firing Squad For Drug Smugglers Has Aussie Media Juiced Up

In A Country With No Death Penalty, Executing Heroin Lowlifes Is A Big Deal

The lead story Down Under is word that Indonesia will execute two Australians who were the ringleaders of a heroin smuggling ring operating out of Bali.
Australia, which has no death penalty, made a big push for clemency. Indonesia, choosing a more draconian tack in the war on drugs, doesn't want anything sullying its tourism cash cow on Bali, where Aussies make a quick hop sort of like we do to the Bahamas or Cabo.
So the pair -- the leaders of the so-called Bali Nine -- have a date with the wrong end of a bullet.

Which has made the Australian media apoplectic, to say the least.
The thought that one of their own, even remorseless drug dealers, facing a firing squad is more than many can handle.
The Age in Melbourne opined: "They were willing to peddle a drug that causes untold misery and death. They deserve to pay a heavy price for their deeds, but not even this reprehensible crime justifies a punishment that denies all hope of redemption or rehabilitation."
However, Rupert Murdoch's Herald Sun, wasn't passing out any hankies, and predictably dismissed widespread criticism of the Australian Federal Police for tipping off Indonesian authorities. "Australians should be grateful that they nipped in the bud this attempt to put more heroin on our streets."

Now that the verdict is in, the media dusted off some sidebars that were likely in the can anticipating the sentence.
The Sydney Morning Herald, which reported Prime Minister John Howard was almost in tears when commenting on the case, has an intriguing sidebar about firing squads, including a nugget that the paramilitary shooters practice on dolls, and no doubt guilty dolls at that.

The Daily Telegraph in Sydney notes how most of the firing squad's guns actually have blanks, and none of the volunteers know who fires the fatal shot, in order to soothe their conscience. And apparently the Indonesians aren't fond of media circuses for their executions. You won't see the Aussie equivalent of Anderson Cooper or Rita Cosbie doing live standups on the killing field.

They are generally carried out in remote and deserted places in the night to ensure there are no witnesses. The time and place is a closely guarded secret and decoy cars are sent out from the jails to foil attempts by the media to witness them.

Although, the Indonesians might have reason to be camera-shy, As the Herald-Sun notes:
"Should the firing squad miss, the commander has the right to shoot the condemned in the head with his pistol."

You just hate when that happens.

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