December 5, 2012
A Victorian grandfather trained at the International Bodyguard Association in Ukraine so he could fight the Indonesian government as a mercenary in West Papua, a court has heard.
Gerard Michael Little, 45, was refused bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday after being charged with committing preparatory acts for incursion into foreign states.
The slightly built, greying disability pensioner has also been charged with training or performing drills in preparation for incursion into foreign states.
Little was arrested at the Brisbane International Airport on Tuesday night as he tried to board a flight to Papua New Guinea, from where he intended to “island-hop” to West Papua, the court heard.
Commonwealth prosecutor Justin Williams said Little made admissions to police about his intentions and told them he had undertaken training in Ukraine in August.
He said the strength of the crown case was “overwhelming” and opposed bail on the grounds Little was a flight risk.
However, defence lawyer Nick Dore said the case required “a lot of investigation” and suggested Little was acting on an invitation.
“The crux of it is whether or not he was lawfully entering West Papua to provide services on invitation,” Mr Dore said.
“There is a big difference between entering a community on a mercenary basis, uninvited, like someone in a Hollywood movie, and someone lawfully invited to attend.”
He said Little was “not trying to mask any activities”, and that he had strong ties to the Toowoomba community, where his elderly father, daughter and grand-daughter lived.
Magistrate Jacqui Payne refused Little’s bail application, saying there was an unacceptable risk he would flee.
The case was adjourned until January 18 for mention.
Australia fully recognises Indonesia’s sovereignty over its Papua and West Papua provinces, despite a decades-long separatist insurgency.
Australia’s support for Indonesia’s control was explicitly set out in the 2006 Lombok Treaty.
Asked about the position earlier this year, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said: “It would be a reckless Australian indeed who wanted to associate himself with a small separatist group which threatens the territorial integrity of Indonesia.”
Australia does, however, regularly raise with Indonesia concerns about human rights in the provinces.
In Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, Senator Carr told reporters it was a matter for the courts and declined to comment.