Sunday, 26 February 2012

Aussies determined to stay at Bali jail Local Gold Coast News | | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

THE 12 Australians being held at Bali's notorious Kerobokan jail continue to insist they want to stay, despite being given the opportunity to move after days of unrest at the prison.

Convicted drug courier Scott Rush, one of the Bali Nine, was the only Australian to leave the jail on last night as part of an evacuation of prisoners.

He was taken to a police station in Denpasar where he met Australian officials, but was later returned to Kerobokan.

The remainder of the Bali Nine, as well as the Gold Coast's Schapelle Corby, insisted on staying at the jail, which had been the scene of a tense standoff between rioting inmates and Indonesian authorities since Tuesday night.

Two other Australians -- Sydney man Michael Sacatides and Darwin man Graeme Pollock, who is awaiting sentencing on drugs charges -- also refused to leave.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra said on Friday that consular officials had spoken overnight to a number of the Australian prisoners.

"All the Australians currently remain at Kerobokan prison, and we understand that the situation at Kerobokan was stable overnight and in the early hours of the morning," it said.

Australia's ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, has become personally involved in the matter and has spoken to officials in Jakarta, while additional embassy staff have been sent to Bali to assist on the ground.

"The Australian ambassador in Jakarta made representations last night to the vice minister of law and human rights to register the government's concern that the safety and welfare of the Australian prisoners should be protected," DFAT said.

Earlier on Thursday, it had been revealed that authorities wanted to evacuate all foreign prisoners to detention facilities elsewhere in Bali.

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The Australians were to be taken to Klungkung, about 70km from Kerobokan.

However, Corby and a number of the Bali Nine expressed anxiety about the prospects of leaving the prison and refused to be evacuated.

"Her reasons are that she is worried about having to adapt to new surroundings, and that she's not ready mentally," Indonesian justice and human rights ministry spokesman Bambang Krisbanu said.

"The Bali Nine are the same as Corby. They are not ready to adapt to a new place."

The evacuation was planned after concerns were raised by Indonesian security officials that prisoners leading the rioting could take hostages.

The overcrowded jail, which was built to hold just over 300 prisoners but currently houses more than 1000 male and female inmates, has been the subject of a major security operation since Tuesday night when rioting inmates seized control of the prison.

Authorities were able to take the jail back early on Wednesday morning, but were forced out on to the streets again on Wednesday night.

The situation at the prison today was described as calm.