Australians locked up in a notorious Bali jail are banned from seeing their family in traditional Christmas visits due to coronavirus fears
- Nine Australians in Bali jails are banned from Christmas visits due to COVID-19
- Just two of them qualify for sentence remissions, which take place on holidays
- The others, who are serving life sentences or are still on trial, do not qualify
- Five members of the Bali Nine are serving life sentences without any remissions
Of the Australian prisoners behind bars on the holiday island, only two qualify for the traditional Christmas sentence remissions.
The others, serving life sentences or who are still on trial, do not qualify.
AAP has confirmed that two Aussies – Sunshine Coast man Brendon Luke Johnsson and Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis – will both be awarded sentence cuts of one month and 15 days this Christmas.
Two Australians – Sunshine Coast man Brendon Luke Johnsson (left) and Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis (right) – will both be awarded sentence cuts of one month and 15 days this Christmas
Both Johnsson and Ellis are serving their time in Bali’s Kerobokan prison (pictured)
Johnsson is serving a five-year-and-four-month sentence on a drugs offence and Ellis is serving 15 years after being convicted of child sex offences.
Johnsson was convicted in relation to 11.6 grams of cocaine found in his possession in Bali in 2019.
Both Johnsson and Ellis are serving their time in Bali’s Kerobokan prison.
Only two members of the Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang remain in the same prison – Si Yi Chen and Matthew James Norman.
However, as both are serving life sentences, they do not qualify for any sentence remissions, which are traditionally awarded to all prisoners in Indonesia twice a year, on Independence Day and on their nominated religious holiday.
Both men have applied each year to have their life sentences slashed to a determinant sentence of 20 years or less but each year their hopes of release one day are dashed.
Matthew James Norman (left) and Si Yi Chen (right), two members of the Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang, do not qualify for any sentence remissions on Christmas as they are serving life sentences
Bali Nine heroin courier, Brisbane man Scott Anthony Rush, is held in the Bangli narcotic prison in Bali’s north. He is also serving a life sentence.
Fellow Aussie, former Sydney man Michael Sacatides, is in the same jail, serving an 18-year sentence after being convicted of attempting to bring 1.7kg of methamphetamine to Bali in 2011.
Sacatides, who is Buddhist, does not qualify for Christmas remissions and is normally awarded them on Vesak, the Buddhist holiday.
Two other Bali Nine members, Martin Stephens and Michael Czugaj, are jailed in Java and are also serving life sentences and get no remissions.
Three other Aussies who are locked up in Bali on drugs charges are currently on trial or waiting for trial and therefore also do not qualify for remissions.
Christmas is generally a festive time in Kerobokan jail, where families are allowed to visit for the day and religious ceremonies are held.
Police patrol outside Bangli Prison, where Brisbane man Scott Anthony Rush and Sydney man Michael Sacatides are being held
But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that.
It is now nine months since any prisoners were allowed inside Bali jails, after all visits were banned in March in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus through prison populations.
Jail officials have allowed food drops and for prisoners to communicate via video calls through this period.
‘Christmas this year will be different. The prisoner’s family will not be allowed to join Christmas celebrations inside the prison. The celebration also will be held virtually,’ Bali law and human rights ministry spokesman Putu Surya Dharma said.
‘Because of the pandemic, we should protect prisoners from any actions that could increase the risk of COVID-19.’
Earlier in the year, prisoners at Kerobokan jail, including Si Yi Chen, tested positive to COVID-19.
One of the ‘Bali Nine’ Michael Czugaj in 2006. He and fellow Bali Nine member Martin Stephens are jailed in Java and are also serving life sentences with no remissions