Australia-Indonesia relations tested over Campos investigation | Connect Asia

Australia-Indonesia relations tested over Campos investigation

Australia-Indonesia relations tested over Campos investigation

Updated 18 January 2012, 19:25 AEDT

Australia-Indonesia relations are being tested as the Australian Federal Police conduct a war crimes investigation into the deaths of five Australian-based journalists killed at Balibo in 1975 and now there's pressure over the case of Guy Campos, accused for crimes carried out in East Timor in the 1990s.

He's also being investigated by the Australian Federal Police and is currently in Australia.

Presenter: Linda Mottram

Bob Brown, Senator and Australian Greens party leader; Steve Fielding, Australian Family First party Senator; Joe Ludwig, Australian Special Minister of State; Dr Clinton Fernandes, Senior Lecturer, Strategic Studies, University of NSW.

MOTTRAM: Guy Campos has been accused of collaborating with Indonesia's military involving kidnapping and torture of East Timorese during Indonesia's occupation. Last year, it was revealed by Australia's former principle East Timor intelligence analyst, Doctor Clinton Fernandes, that Guy Campos had been convicted of maltreatment leading to death of an eleven-year old boy, Fancisco Ximenes, in 1979. The conviction was quickly overturned by a superior court.

In separate matters, Australia's Attorney General says, the Australian Federal Police is currently investigating several allegations involving Mr campos in East Timor during the 1990s. Mr Campos is presently in Australia. He came to the country on a World Youth Day visa for the Catholic youth event in July last year. He has remained in Australia since then on a bridging visa.

A day after the separate issue came to light of the Australian Federal Police war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Australian journalists known as the Balibo five, Australian Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, moved to try to compel the Rudd government to ensure Guy Campos doesn't leave Australia before the police investigation is complete or a prosecution determination about possible charges is made.

BROWN: I am very alarmed indeed and I hope that the Senate will share that alarm that Mr Campos may in the coming days, certainly in the coming weeks go back to Timor Leste or to Indonesia and out of the reach of the criminal justice system here in Australia.

MOTTRAM: Another non-government Senator, Steve Fielding, has echoed Senator Brown's sentiments on the issue.

FIELDING: It would be outrageous to see this person being able to leave this country without Australia really following through on its obligations to actually bring this person to justice.

MOTTRAM: The Australian government says Mr Campos is in Australia legally and can't be prevented from leaving. If he overstays his visa and becomes unlawful, the Attorney General has said in a letter he'd consider acting. But even then, he says Mr Campos can't be stopped from leaving voluntarily. And Australia's Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig, says its unfair to suggest there are other options at this stage.

LUDWIG: This motion is thoughtless at best and unfairly misleading to the families affected by war crimes.

MOTTRAM: Some experts believe the evidence before Australia's top prosecutor against Guy Campos is more advanced than publicly believed. And Doctor Clinton Fernandes, now at the University of New South Wales, says its clear under which act a prosecution could proceed.

FERNANDES: There are two acts that confer universal jurisdiction such that crimes committed elsewhere can still be tried in Australia. One is the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which brings into effect the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Crimes that he is alleged to have committed in 1979 would be prosecutable under that act. However because of legal problems and the need to have a reasonable prospect of a conviction that avenue is not being pursued. There is in fact another act called the Crimes Torture Act which brings into effect the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. Now Mr Campos is alleged to have conducted certain activities that may fall within the ambit of that act in the 1990s. That's the basis for any investigation.

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