24 Jun 2009

Australians leave Papua after being detained for nine months

3:54 pm on 24 June 2009

Five Australian tourists trapped in Indonesia's Papua region for the past nine months have flown back to Australia.

The Queenslanders - pilot William Scott-Bloxam, his wife Vera, and passengers Keith Mortimer, Hubert Hofer and Karen Burke - flew their light aircraft out Merauke this morning.

They have flown to Horn Island, in the Torres Strait.

The Australians had been arrested last September for entering Papua without visas or proper clearance.

They were sentenced to harsh prison terms but the convictions were dismissed by Indonesia's Supreme Court earlier this month.

However the group had to wait another fortnight while Indonesia's bureaucracy finalised the paperwork for their release.

The five say they had travelled to Papua to look into tourism opportunities and planned to spend only a weekend there, before being arrested.