22 Jan 2009

Five Australians jailed in Papua not dishonest people, says associate

3:38 pm on 22 January 2009

An associate of five Australians who have been imprisoned in Indonesia's Papua province for illegal entry says the group is terrified at the predicament they are now in.

Queensland pilot, William Scott-Bloxam, and four passengers, including his wife, were last week sentenced to three and two years prison respectively for entering Papua without visa documentation when they landed their chartered plane last September.

The Merauke court heard the five, all aged above 50 and from the Torres Strait/Cape York area, had flown to Papua for sightseeing, believing they could get a visa on arrival.

The editor of Torres News, Mark Bousen, has been in touch with the Scott-Bloxams and says they made an innocent mistake which doesn't deserve a jail term.

"These are not dishonest people. These are all hard-working people who have jobs, who go about their jobs on a daily basis and without offending authorities. They - and I'm sure none of them have ever been in prison before - they all have to come to grips with coming to jail in third world conditions where you provide your own food, your own toiletries, your own bedding, your own anything, and the toilet's a hole in the floor."

Mark Bousen