Tracking the Bali Nine’s Mr Big
The family of a Nepalese drug dealer mysteriously shot dead on suspicion of being the supplier to the Bali nine has spoken out for the first time, demanding Australia investigate his killing.
Just days after the Bali bust in April 2005, Nepalese businessman Man Singh Ghale, 35, was killed in suspicious circumstances during an Indonesian police raid in Jakarta.
Two of the Bali nine drug runners, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, make the final legal challenge to their executions on Monday.
In Jakarta, the Indonesian police said Ghale was the chief suspect in the supply of the drugs and was shot because he had been armed and resisted arrest. They also said he was in possession of heroin.
But, at the time, Ghale’s neighbours contradicted Indonesian police accounts of the killing.
The Indonesian police’s reluctance to provide details of the death or the body prompted suspicion Ghale had been killed to cover up police corruption.
At the time Australian Federal Police publicly confirmed they believed Ghale was the chief suspect, citing evidence in the form of electronic contact between Ghale and the courier of the Bali drugs.
But in early 2006, the AFP backflipped on the claims saying they believed Ghale was likely only on the periphery of the smuggling operation – by which time the trail of the real suppliers seemed to have gone cold.
The father of three’s Nepal-based family and his widow, Sita, have never spoken until Fairfax Media tracked them down in Nepal in March.
The furious family said they had not been correctly informed about details of his death, never been given his body or told that the events which led to his killing were indirectly triggered by the AFP’s tip-off to the Indonesian police about the Bali nine.
As a result the family, including his widow immediately demanded that the AFP or the Australian government provide information about Ghale’s death.
“If he is dead, they should send the body. He is a human being not an animal. They [the Australian and Indonesian authorities] should give us information,” Sita said.
“We thought Indonesia only was involved in it but now we know Australia is also engaged in it. Now more than the Indonesian government, we demand the Australian government that they disclose news of our man.
“He was caught because of the Australian police but there is not any information about him.. Australia should do something about that.”
The family vigorously denies knowledge of Ghale’s connection with drugs or organised crime.
“We do not know about that. He went there [Indonesia] to work. We don’t know what he does there,” Sita said.
“He had man power [recruitment agency] and travel agency there. We have not seen that [drugs] with our own eyes.”
Sita said her three daughters regularly asked what happened to their father.
“I don’t know what to tell them,” she said.
Nepalese police have confirmed Ghale was a suspected drug trafficker who travelled widely, even popping up in Cuba on a false passport at one point.
But they admit their files do not have any definitive evidence linking him to the Bali nine deal.
The files do, however, have a “proof of death” image sent to the Nepalese police from the Indonesian authorities which appears to show Ghale lying dead on some newspapers with a white object around his neck.
And AFP correspondence sighted by Fairfax reveals that for at least a month after the killing, the AFP strongly believed Ghale was the supplier partly based on intelligence provided by an Indonesian “Human source”.
A letter from the AFP’s then Myanmar-based agent Mark Scott, sighted by Fairfax, reveals that the AFP was focusing on a tenuous connection involving Ghale’s travel movements and close contact with the suspected courier in the Bali nine deal, a Thai prostitute, as proof of his involvement.
Agent Scott was later killed in the crash of a Garuda aircraft in Indonesian in 2007.
By early 2006, the AFP admitted Ghale was likely only on the periphery of the investigation after tests on heroin in the possession of the Bali nine found the heroin was sourced from a different region to that of the heroin found in Ghale’s possession.
An AFP spokesman said questions about the circumstances of the death of Man Singh Ghale are better directed to the Indonesian authorities.
The spokesman said it “was not appropriate to discuss the operational detail of the AFP’s role in the Bali nine case due to ongoing consular efforts regarding clemency”.
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