3 Mar 2009

Five Australians freed from custody in Indonesia's Papua

4:54 pm on 3 March 2009

Five Australians jailed in Papua Province for entering Indonesia illegally have been released from prison on humanitarian grounds, but remain banned from leaving Merauke until their appeals are heard.

Controversy surrounds the Merauke District Court's jailing of the 62 year old pilot William Scott-Bloxam, for three years for landing in the region without the required documents.

His four passengers, including Mr Scott-Bloxam's wife Vera, were jailed for two years each.

A lawyer for the group, Efrem Fanohoy, told local media the Australians had requested release because they are old and frequently sick.

He also said that William and Vera's son had died in Australia and the pair were in a state of shock.

Mr Scott-Bloxam landed his plane at Merauke in September last year, thinking they could obtain visas on arrival, but they were immediately detained for not having security clearance.