dpp rejects last ditch legal attempt to save nguyen

Wednesday 30 November 2005

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Damian Bugg QC, today refused to grant the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (‘CCL’) consent to proceed with a private prosecution against Mr Van Nguyen for conspiracy to import heroin into Australia. 

Mr Nguyen will be executed in Singapore at the end of this week for importing heroin into Singapore. 

CCL was ready to file papers today in a Sydney court to launch a private prosecution of Mr Nguyen with conspiracy to import heroin into Australia. According to federal law, a charge of conspiracy cannot be brought without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

"This is a most disappointing decision", said Mr Cameron Murphy, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. 

"It is clear in our view that there are grounds to prosecute. We are willing to do it, even if the DPP is not", Mr Murphy said. 

"There is still an opportunity for the DPP to reconsider and we are prepared to proceed", Mr Murphy said. 

Mr Bugg QC wrote to CCL that “I am unable to accede to your request for consent to commence a conspiracy charge against Mr Van Tuong Nguyen. I am not satisfied that further charges can properly be laid against Mr Nguyen in circumstances where he has been convicted and sentenced in Singapore for an offence arising out of the course of conduct you refer to in your letter”. 

In the letter, the Commonwealth DPP also declined to commence criminal charges against Mr Nguyen for conspiracy. 

CCL believes that a prosecution for conspiracy to import heroin, which relates to what Mr Nguyen did before he left Australia for Singapore and Cambodia, has a reasonable prospect of success. CCL had planned to file papers to prosecute Mr Nguyen and then ask the Justice Minister, Senator Chris Ellison, to commence extradition proceedings to bring Mr Nguyen to Australia to face the charges. 

CCL also wrote to the AFP Commissioner, Mr Mick Keelty, asking him to bring charges against the two men with whom Mr Nguyen met here in Australia before he left for Singapore. Mr Nguyen would be a valuable witness in their trials and Singapore could be asked to stay Mr Nguyen’s execution so that he could give evidence against the men. CCL has not yet heard back from Mr Keelty. 

For more information contact: 
Cameron Murphy, NSWCCL President, 0411 769 769