17 Jun 2009

Merauke Five could still be hindered from returning to Australia

10:26 pm on 17 June 2009

Reports from Indonesia say prosecutors could still hinder the release of five Australians detained in Papua for the past nine months, even though Indonesia's Supreme Court has cleared them of wrongdoing.

The so-called "Merauke Five" were arrested last September for flying their small aircraft into Papua without visas or flight clearance.

The group's lawyer, Mohammad Rifan, says if all goes to plan, the Australians should receive final permission to leave the town of Merauke on Thursday or Friday.

But he says he fears prosecutors may yet raise further hurdles.

Earlier the pilot, William Scott-Bloxham, had been givena three year jail term, and each of his passengers two-year terms, but their convictions were overturned in March.

However before they could get out of Indonesia, they were banned from leaving while prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court, which last week again freed them.