12 Mar 2009

Another setback in Merauke five's bid for freedom from Papua

4:34 pm on 12 March 2009

A member of the community in North Queensland where five Australians recently freed from jail in Papua province come from says the group's latest setback highlights the unfairness of Indonesia's officials.

Horn Island pilot William Scott-Bloxam, his wife and three friends were preparing to return home yesterday after winning an appeal against convictions for illegally entering Indonesia on a light plane last September.

But their Indonesian lawyer says the five are now stuck in Merauke while district prosecutors ascertain whether they can appeal against the decision to overturn the convictions.

A fellow Horn Islander, named Bob, says that after initially being given hefty jail sentences, the group are still being treated poorly compared with Indonesians arriving in Australia.

"We treat them first class - give them a medical, take them to Darwin, give them tours of Darwin while they're incarcerated and then send them back home. How can you equal the treatment they've given the Bloxhams compared with what we do with the boat people?"