Lex Lasry QC, who has represented executed drug trafficker Van Nguyen and two members of the Bali Nine, said he was saddened the debate about the death penalty had become politicised, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Prime Minister John Howard has contradicted Australia’s position on the death penalty for the sake of political expediency, says a prominent lawyer.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland sparked talkback radio outrage when he suggested on Monday the Bali bombers should be spared the death penalty.
He has apologised to the families of the Bali victims, as his speech came just days before the fifth anniversary of the blasts.
Mr Howard attacked Labor over Mr McClelland’s speech and said it would be “very, very bad” if the Bali bombers’ death sentences were not carried out.
“That’s completely at odds with Australia’s declared position,” Mr Lasry told ABC television.
“We don’t have the death penalty here in Australia, we haven’t had it since the 1970s.
“We don’t execute terrorists; we support, internationally, the abolition of capital punishment.
“You’re either for that or you’re not. It seems to me that the sort of comments (Mr Howard made) … are, in a sense, contrary to his declared position.”