The Nepali drug boss who supplied heroin to Bali Nine

Little does Australia’s Nepalese community know that at the heart of the life and death situation facing Bali Nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan was a notorious Nepalese called Man Singh Ghale.

Ghale is not around today to tell the tales of the Bali Nine’s involvement in the attempted smuggling of 8.6 kilograms of heroin he supplied to them. He was executed by the Indonesian drug squad on 27 April 2005. While Ghale met a quick but illegal death in the hands of anti-narcotics officers, the Australian duo wait for their march to the firing squad.

Sukumaran Chan
Sukumaran & Chan: True brothers!

Ghale originally hailed from Dhading, a district near Kathmandu, and was married to a Nepalese woman named Sita and they together had two children.

On the day of his death in the backstreets of Jakarta, he was known to be playing Karaoke with two women he shared the house with – one was Indonesian and the other Nepalese.

Responding to a huge media interest in the aftermath of Ghale’s death, Indonesian authorities had claimed he was killed as he resisted arrest. But a research of news reports dating back to the time of the incident reveals an entirely different side to the story.

Ghale was a major crime boss in South East Asia around 2005 who ran his ‘Golden Triangle’ operations – through Burma, Thailand and Laos.  He was arrested twice before – in 1999 and 2004 but he had managed to escape on both occasions. The local police never provided a satisfactory explanation as to how a slight man could escape high-security facilities of an elite squad.

It was widely believed at the time that someone higher-up inside Indonesia’s police department might have helped him flee. That explained how Ghale, despite his known role as a ‘big-fish’ in the underworld, could rent a house in a Jakarta suburb and live scot-free with two women and raging Hindi music.

Sydney Morning Herald quoted at least four different eye-witnesses who had seen Ghale in relatively good condition with injury only to his thigh and with hands tied in the back. Police claimed he was shot in the chest while trying to escape but one witness said the man walked to a police car in a clean singlet which was not bloodied at all.

Around the time of Ghale’s death, the Indonesian drug squad was alleged of staging several artificial encounters to kill prisoners execution-style.

When Ghale was killed, he was a wanted man in his home country of Nepal as well as in Thailand. He was also being pursued by the US Drug Enforcement Agency for his part in a conspiracy to smuggle 16 kilograms of heroin on a British Airways flight from Jakarta to the United States in 2000, an ABC report dating back to 2005 says.

Two days after Ghale was killed, speaking to ABC’s AM programme, the chief of the Narcotics Unit of Indonesia’s National Police, claimed that the Nepalese-born drug lord was indeed related to the Bali Nine trafficking case. This theory was substantiated by the then Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Keelty who said Ghale was ‘directly linked’ to the Bali Nine case.

Sukumaran and Chan were young and stupid when they made horrendous mistakes and fell prey to the enticements of the drug world. Quick money syndrome got the better of them. Today, the world feels for them but can do nothing to save the reformed young men. So far, appeals of millions of people from across the world have fallen on President Widodo’s deaf ears who stated just after he was sworn in that he should not be expected to grant clemency to drug-related offenders.

Indonesia executed six people by firing squad on 17 January this year. Five of them were foreigners from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, Vietnam and the Netherlands. Four men from abroad and the Indonesian lady were executed just few kilometres from a high-security prison on Nusakambangan island. A Vietnamese woman was killed in Boyolali.

Human rights groups, friends of Sukumaran and Chan and Australian leaders including prime minister Tony Abbott are still holding out hope that the duo’s right to life would prevail somehow.

The country had halted killings in 2004 but resumed in 2013. At present, the country has 133 death row convicts out of which 20 are expected to be executed this year alone.

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