29 May 2009

Indonesia justifies process for holding five Australians in Papua

5:33 pm on 29 May 2009

Indonesia denies it's pushing tough jail sentences for five Queenslanders held in Papua as revenge for Australia's treatment of Indonesian fishermen.

A spokesman for Indonesia's attorney-general says there's no hidden political agenda behind the prosecution and continued detention of the Australians, arrested last September for flying into Papua without visas.

New court documents, obtained by Fairfax newspapers, show prosecutors urged the Supreme Court to uphold the sentences because they were lawful unlike a neighbouring country who, without legal process, burn and sink Indonesian fishing boats that enter their territorial borders.

Australian authorities routinely impound or destroy boats belonging to Indonesian fishermen caught in Australian territorial waters.

Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, says Australian officials are doing all they can to secure the group's release.