Indonesia gooit 4 Australiërs in de gevangenis voor vlucht over Papua PDF Afdrukken

Een Australische piloot is veroordeeld tot drie jaar in een Indonesische gevangenis, en zijn vier metgezellen tot elk twee jaar, voor het illegaal vliegen boven de oostelijke provincie Papoea.

In a decision their lawyer described as an "embarrassment" for the Indonesian legal system, former airline pilot William Scott-Bloxam was sentenced under the country's aviation legislation.

His wife, Vera Scott-Bloxam, 54, and Hubert Hufer, 57, Karen Burke, 51 and Keith Ronald Mortimer, 60, were all found guilty of immigration violations.

The group travelled in a light plane from Horn Island, off Cape York in northern Queensland, on September 12. Mr Scott-Bloxam and his wife run an air charter business on the island.

The group, who said they were flying to Indonesia to investigate tourism opportunities, initially claimed they believed they could acquire visas on arriving in Merauke.

However the country's visa-on-arrival scheme only operates at major sea and air ports.

"This is extremely embarrassing for Indonesian law . . . they should only have been deported," lawyer Efrem Fangohoi said. "I will immediately appeal."

Mr Scott-Bloxam's four companions were also fined 25 million rupiah ($3457), or a further two months in jail.

The entire group has been under house arrest since their detention in the eastern city of Merauke, first in a hotel and then in a house which they were permitted to rent.

They are expected to now, however, be moved to a regular jail.

There were claims when the group was first arrested that they were Australian spies. Jakarta keeps a tight grip on Papua, refusing to give foreign journalists easy access to the region, and the military is frequently accused of human rights abuses there.

The news blackout makes these claims difficult to independently verify.

Papua was absorbed into Indonesian territory after a 1968 referendum which many observers agree was unfairly conducted.