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Grim fate: Five Bali 9 men to die in jail

With four now either dead or released, what has happened to the remaining five of the Bali Nine?
With four now either dead or released, what has happened to the remaining five of the Bali Nine?

Executed, executed, dead, deported: the Bali Nine will soon be down to the Bali Five and none of those young men are ever likely to get out of Indonesia alive.

Following the 2015 deaths by firing squad of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the cancer death in May of Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen and Renae Lawrence's imminent release, only five of the original drug conspirators remain.

It is more than 13 years since nine young Australians made world headlines attempting to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin strapped to their bodies out of Bali's Denpasar airport.

The remaining five are still reasonably young men: Michael Czugaj and Matthew Norman, 32, Scott Rush and Si Yi Chen, 33, and Martin Stephens, 42.

Each one is serving a life sentence, with three having spent years facing the death penalty while incarcerated in Indonesia.

With their legal appeals exhausted and Joko Widodo in power, they would rely on the tough-on-drugs President's clemency to grant them a sentence reduction.

Otherwise, the "Bali Five" face decades of mouldering away in their respective prisons until death by disease or old age.

Former labourer Rush, who has struggled with drug addiction in prison, has seesawed between life and death sentences.

Bali police mugshots of three Bali Nine heroin mules who may die in prison (left to right), Michael Czugaj, Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen.
Bali police mugshots of three Bali Nine heroin mules who may die in prison (left to right), Michael Czugaj, Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen.

After spending five years on death row, he is now serving life.

His friend, ex-Brisbane glazier Czugaj, originally sentenced to life, had a glimmer of hope in 2006 when his sentence was reduced on appeal to 20 years imprisonment.

Five months later, however, the Balinese courts reinstated his life sentence.

After Chinese Australian Si Yi Chen received a life sentence at his February 2006 trial, he confidently appealed for a reduction.

The Indonesian Supreme Court duly imposed the death penalty on him.

Only after Chen's full confession as to his role in the Bali Nine drug plot was his original sentence of life reinstated.

The oldest of those left behind, former Wollongong bartender Martin Stephens is also serving life.

Stephens waited until 2011 to appeal his original life imprisonment, hoping to reduce his sentence to 10 years but the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected his bid.

Scott Rush with a monkey in Bali before he was arrested for drug smuggling.
Scott Rush with a monkey in Bali before he was arrested for drug smuggling.

 

Matthew Norman was sentenced to life and like Chen appealed with the shock result that he was handed the death penalty.

Norman also made a full confession and his sentence was flipped back to life in prison.

Afterwards, his mother, Robyn Davis thanked the Indonesian Government.

"Well, it's better than being shot, I suppose," she said. "He's okay. Hopefully they'll keep on looking after him while I'm not here and when I return and spend a bit more time with my son."

But as the years roll by, the parents of the remaining Bali conspirators are growing older and the time will come when they can no loner return to visit their sons.

As the oldest Bali Nine member Martin Stephens wrote just before Chan and Sukumaran's executions by firing squad three years ago, the Bali drug mules needed hope.

"Please Mr Jokowi," he begged in a letter to the Indonesian president sent to The Australian newspaper, "Please give us hope. I don't want to be forgotten. I don't want to rot in prison. I did wrong and I am sorry. I ask forgiveness and beg for mercy."

Only two of these Bali Nine members (pictured in 2005) Matthew Norman, Myuran Sukumaran, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Tanh Nguyen are still alive. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Only two of these Bali Nine members (pictured in 2005) Matthew Norman, Myuran Sukumaran, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Tanh Nguyen are still alive. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.

These are the stories of the Bali five, and what they are doing in prison:

Scott Rush, above on trial in Bali in 2006, spent six years on Indonesia’s death penalty list. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro.
Scott Rush, above on trial in Bali in 2006, spent six years on Indonesia’s death penalty list. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro.

SCOTT ANTHONY RUSH

Bali arrest

At Denpasar's international airport with 1.3kg strapped to his body.

Criminal background

Rush grew up in western Brisbane and attended private Catholic boys' school St Laurence's College from which he was expelled in Year 10 for a drug incident. Reportedly he began smoking cannabis aged 15 and used ecstasy and prescription drugs.

Five months before his Bali arrest, in December 2004, Rush pleaded guilty at Inala Magistrates Court to 16 offences, including drug possession, fraud, theft and drink-driving.

Scott Rush under arrest at Ngurah Rai Airport with heroin strapped to his body.
Scott Rush under arrest at Ngurah Rai Airport with heroin strapped to his body.

Outstanding warrants

A warrant for his arrest in Australia was outstanding at the time of his trip to Bali, relating to $AU4796.95 allegedly stolen from an Australian bank.

Road to Bali

Then aged 19, Rush and his Brisbane friend, Michael Czugaj, 18, met Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen in a Fortitude Valley hotel.

Nguyen offered them a free holiday to Bali, and Rush a mobile phone.

Rush's father Lee learnt what his son was up to after Scott's departure and alerted the Australian Federal Police in the hope that Scott could be stopped.

The AFP alerted the Indonesia police who swooped on the drug plotters.

Scott Rush, Michael Czujag and Renae Lawrence in custody of Indonesian police at Bali airport in April 2005.
Scott Rush, Michael Czujag and Renae Lawrence in custody of Indonesian police at Bali airport in April 2005.

Prison life

Rush has struggled with drugs, had several romances and strived to deal with incarceration.

In May 2011, Rush reportedly planned to marry an American girlfriend, Karen Hermiz, and in 2014 London banker, Nikki Butler.

In 2010 while on death row, Rush was reportedly circumcised in the musholla (prayer space) of Kerobokan prison by a visitor in clandestine ceremony, an alleged effort to convert to Islam.

He allegedly changed his name to "Scott Sulaiman".

However, Rush afterwards maintained that he was a Christian and that he underwent the procedure for "health reasons".

Scott Rush and his fiancee, Nikki Butler, in Kerobokan prison in 2014 before he moved to a different jail.
Scott Rush and his fiancee, Nikki Butler, in Kerobokan prison in 2014 before he moved to a different jail.

A visiting psychiatrist later described Rush as "'anxious, thought disordered and confused", and Rush's actions were categorised as symptomatic of "death row phenomenon".

"He is an anxious, lonely and terrified young man. He is trying to find understanding in a world that no longer makes sense," the unnamed psychiatrist told Fairfax News.

After his death penalty was transmuted to a life sentence, in 2014 Rush was transferred, at his request, to a prison in Karangasem, East Bali, in order "to improve himself".

 

MICHAEL WILLIAM CZUGAJ

Michael William in a Bali Police HQ cell in 2005 soon after his arrest. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Michael William in a Bali Police HQ cell in 2005 soon after his arrest. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.

Bali arrest

At Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar with 1.75kg of heroin concealed on his body.

Criminal past

AS a teenager in Australia, Czugaj was a burgeoning minor criminal.

He had 14 convictions for offences including train fare evasion, wilful damage, drink-driving and receiving stolen property.

Between 2003 and his April 2005 arrest, Czugaj appeared on several occasions in Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The late Myuran Sukumaran painting a portrait of Michael Czugaj inside Kerobokan Jail.
The late Myuran Sukumaran painting a portrait of Michael Czugaj inside Kerobokan Jail.

Road to Bali

Czugaj was an apprentice glazier, keen surfer, one of eight children born to Polish-Australian parents.

He left his job in March 2005 and told his family that he was going to Cairns for a holiday. Czugaj's parents said he was a "problem child" but had never been in serious trouble and had no drug history.

His father, Steven, said didn't think his son even had a passport, saying "The kid's got no money … this must have all been arranged, I don't know how or by whom."

Czugaj, 19, weeps openly as his parents visit him for the first time at Police Headquarters in Denpasar.
Czugaj, 19, weeps openly as his parents visit him for the first time at Police Headquarters in Denpasar.

Prison life

Czugaj is one of the two remaining Bali Nine members still in Kerobokan Prison in Bali.

He has studied business management behind bars and had a relationship with girlfriend Lena, a beautician.

His mother, Vicki, has visited him each year, travelling from Brisbane and staying for two weeks to see her son.

 

MARTIN ERIC STEPHENS

Renae Lawrence, Martin Stephens (centre) and Scott Rush arrive to Denpasar Courthouse for trial. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Renae Lawrence, Martin Stephens (centre) and Scott Rush arrive to Denpasar Courthouse for trial. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.

Bali arrest

At Denpasar's international airport with 3.3kg of heroin taped to his chest and under his clothing.

Road to Bali

From Towradgi, south of Sydney, Stephens was employed as a bartender at Eurest, a catering company.

Also working at the company was Renae Lawrence and Matthew Norman.

Their supervisor was Andrew Chan, who revealed to the three a way to earn money.

What Chan didn't reveal was that he was also involved in two other concurrent heroin smuggling operations, on out of Brisbane and another from Hong Kong to Sydney.

Martin Stephen handcuffed and Renae Lawrence arrive at Ngurah Rai airport for the re-enactment of their heroin arrest. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Martin Stephen handcuffed and Renae Lawrence arrive at Ngurah Rai airport for the re-enactment of their heroin arrest. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.

All would come unstuck, but on April 6, 2005 Stephens and Lawrence left Australia.

Their baggage was packed with sealable plastic bags, medical tape, elastic waist bands and bike shorts supplied the day before by Myuran Sukumaran.

Eleven days later, they strapped heroin to their bodies, covered with waist bands or bike shorts and large flowered tourist shirts over the top and made their last free but fateful trip to the airport.

Martin Stephens marries Christine Winarni Puspayanti in Kerobokan jail.
Martin Stephens marries Christine Winarni Puspayanti in Kerobokan jail.

Prison life

Just months after his arrest, Stephens met Indonesian woman Christine Winarni Puspayanti, who was visiting Kerobokan jail as part of a church group.

He proposed to her in late 2006 and the pair married in Kerobokan in a traditional Indonesian-style wedding in April 2011.

However in 2014, Stephens and Bali Nine cohort, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, were accused of violating prison rules and transferred to a prison 400km away in Malang, East Java.

Just before the 2015 executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Stephens wrote to The Australian saying "just take me out the back and shoot me".

He said if there was no hope of release or redemption, it was more humane to execute him.

Stephens with Bali Nine cohort and cellmate Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen at Malang prison in East Java before Nguyen’s death from cancer in May this year.
Stephens with Bali Nine cohort and cellmate Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen at Malang prison in East Java before Nguyen’s death from cancer in May this year.

"What frightens me now is that the new policy of Jokowi has des­troyed hope," Stephens said.

"He says there is no hope for drug-traffickers … can you imagine what it's like to be given no hope?

"Isn't 20 years a bad-enough penalty? But life means no hope. It means I will die in prison. Can you imagine having to live like that?

"When I think about waking up like that every day, I think it would be better if they took me out the back and put a bullet in the back of my head.''

Since then, Stephens' cellmate Nguyen became ill with cancer and was transferred to a hospital in Jakarta where he died in May this year.

 

MATTHEW JAMES NORMAN

Unidentified Australian in Bali Police HQ on the day the Bali Nine were arrest in April 2005.
Unidentified Australian in Bali Police HQ on the day the Bali Nine were arrest in April 2005.

Bali arrest

In a room together with Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen and Si Yi Chen at the cheap Melasti Hotel in Kuta, Matthew Norman was arrested after police uncovered 334g of heroin in a suitcase.

Road to Bali

Norman was just 18 years old and keen to get his hands on "easy cash, fast cash" when he was approached and offered $15,000 for a drug trafficking job.

He had left school aged 16 because he wanted to work and make money rather than finish his HSC. He later told ABC News that he had been "reckless, callous, wanted to cut corners in life".

Prison life

Just a naive teenager when he was first locked up in Kerobokan jail, Norman learnt his incarceration had a serious effect on his family back home. One of his sisters became anorexic, another was harassed and his parents received hate mail.

Bali Nine lifers Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman in Kerobokan jail where they fear they will die. Picture: Phil Hemingway/Foreign Correspondent.
Bali Nine lifers Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman in Kerobokan jail where they fear they will die. Picture: Phil Hemingway/Foreign Correspondent.

One of just two of the original Bali Nine to still remain in Kerobokan, Norman designs T-shirts, bags and posters and keeps on applying for a sentence reduction.

But he told News Corp that every day was "just a struggle to keep doing good things" amid the "chaos" of prison.

He has seen one fellow inmate hang himself, and others go "mental … crazy" and "I can't fall into that".

"We are not getting any younger. It would be good to go home soon and start our lives again … start fresh," Norman said.

SI YI CHEN

Si Yi Chen making silver jewellery during the Independence Day activities inside Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Si Yi Chen making silver jewellery during the Independence Day activities inside Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.

Bali arrest

In the same cheap hotel room with Matthew Norman and the late Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen with just under a third of a kilogram of heroin in a suitcase.

Road to Bali

Chen had just turned 20 when he was approached in Brisbane to take part in the Bali heroin drug plot.

He had moved from China to Australia at the age of 12 and was a shy boy fearful of being mocked for his Chinese accent.

Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen (centre) and Matthew Norman, in court during their 2007 appeal trial.
Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen (centre) and Matthew Norman, in court during their 2007 appeal trial.

His family was typical traditional Chinese, hard working, strict, and insistent he stay home and study hard. By his late teens however, Chen was "stubborn" with a "huge ego" and rebelling against his father, he decided not to go to university and drop out.

He argued with his parents and moved out of home and in with friends, the ABC reported.

But he needed money and believed he would "always get away" with it because he was young.

His father still blames himself for Si Yi taking part in the Bali Nine plot.

Chen (left) and Matthew Norman take on Indonesian independent day at Kerobokan. Picture: Zul Edoardo.
Chen (left) and Matthew Norman take on Indonesian independent day at Kerobokan. Picture: Zul Edoardo.

Prison life

Chen is in Kerobokan Prison where he started Mule Jewels, a silver jewellery-making program in partnership with a local company which trains inmates in silversmithing.

He practises tai chi, meditates and reportedly has become a Christian.

Chen shares a cell with two other inmates, which he has described as "comfortable enough" but "dirty".

He told the ABC the deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran by the firing squad was like losing family members.

"I feel guilt that I'm still alive and they're not and also feel disappointed and (it) also affected my mindset at that time, like, what's the point?" Chen said.

If he ever gained his freedom he said he would become a counsellor to troubled young adults.

He would like to tell Joko Widodo that "people deserve a second chance … get me home".

Execution site of Chan and Sukumaran.
Execution site of Chan and Sukumaran.
Early arrest picture inside Denpasar Airport police interview room, of Si Yi Chen, 20, Renae Lawrence, 27 and Martin Stephens, 29.
Early arrest picture inside Denpasar Airport police interview room, of Si Yi Chen, 20, Renae Lawrence, 27 and Martin Stephens, 29.
Scott Rush, 19, with heroin taped to his body at the airport after the botched Bali Nine drug exportation.
Scott Rush, 19, with heroin taped to his body at the airport after the botched Bali Nine drug exportation.
Bartender Martin Stephen had heroin taped to his stomach and legs.
Bartender Martin Stephen had heroin taped to his stomach and legs.
Bali Nine ringleader Myuran Sukumaran under police guard during his transfer for execution on ‘Death Island’.
Bali Nine ringleader Myuran Sukumaran under police guard during his transfer for execution on ‘Death Island’.
Scott Rush (above) has struggled in prison.
Scott Rush (above) has struggled in prison.
Martin Stephens said in 2015 ‘just shoot me now’.
Martin Stephens said in 2015 ‘just shoot me now’.
Rush, right, awaiting trial with Bali Nine king pin Andrew Chan, who was executed by firing squad three years ago. Picture: Firdia Lisnawati.
Rush, right, awaiting trial with Bali Nine king pin Andrew Chan, who was executed by firing squad three years ago. Picture: Firdia Lisnawati.
Scott Rush (right) in a 2008 prison tennis match with ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran when all three were on death row.
Scott Rush (right) in a 2008 prison tennis match with ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran when all three were on death row.
One of Rush’s former prison fiancees, Karen Elaine Hermiz.
One of Rush’s former prison fiancees, Karen Elaine Hermiz.
Rush with a jail guard in 2006. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Rush with a jail guard in 2006. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro.
Scott Rush (centre) with his brothers during a birthday visit to Kerobokan back in 2006.
Scott Rush (centre) with his brothers during a birthday visit to Kerobokan back in 2006.
Officers escort two of the Bali Nine to the prison cell in Bali Police HQ. Picture: Lukman S Bintaro.
Officers escort two of the Bali Nine to the prison cell in Bali Police HQ. Picture: Lukman S Bintaro.
Michael Czugaj (left) and Scott Rush wearing signs meaning ‘suspect’ at a re-enactment of their arrest.
Michael Czugaj (left) and Scott Rush wearing signs meaning ‘suspect’ at a re-enactment of their arrest.
Michael Czugaj inside Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Supplied.
Michael Czugaj inside Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Supplied.
Stephens and Christine kiss after the ceremony which took place in 2011.
Stephens and Christine kiss after the ceremony which took place in 2011.
Scott Rush and Si Yi Chen walking inside Kerobokan jail in 2010.
Scott Rush and Si Yi Chen walking inside Kerobokan jail in 2010.
Ambulance with coffin arrives at ‘Death Island” port, Cilicap. Picture: Adam Taylor.
Ambulance with coffin arrives at ‘Death Island” port, Cilicap. Picture: Adam Taylor.

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