Another Example of How “Gun Control” Laws are Abused

From the Perth, Australia Sunday Times:



November 21, 2004

A RICH, internationally acclaimed Perth yachtsman faces the prospect of a long jail term after weapons were found on his boat in Bali.

Chris Packer, who was on an around-the-world voyage with his girlfriend Gianna Botto, 42, and four other crew, was detained by Indonesian police as he sailed from the holiday island.

Indonesian police spokesman Colonel Anthonius Reniban said yesterday that Mr Packer would be charged with illegally possessing firearms.

The offence carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in jail.

Four other sailors on the boat – a decommissioned freighter called Lissa – were also detained but have since been released from custody.

Officers acting on a tip-off seized four rifles, a pistol and more than 2000 rounds of ammunition from the boat. The weapons were undeclared and unlicensed, Col. Reniban said.

“He has carried weapons into Indonesian territory,” said Col. Reniban. “He will be taken to court.”

He didn’t do anything with the weapons – including declare them – he just possessed them. But that’s illegal.

He said that Mr Packer, who was born in South Africa, would be charged with violating Indonesia’s 1951 Emergency Law on possessing weapons.

Right. An EMERGENCY law, enacted in 1951. Is the “emergency” still ongoing?

But Mr Packer’s Peppermint Grove family says the weapons were for protection in notorious, pirate-infested waters.

Mr Packer had been attacked twice by pirates in Peru and had used a weapon to defend his ship.

The family believes he made a dangerous error of judgment by not declaring the weapons when he landed in Indonesia, concerned they would not be returned when he sailed.

Whatever would make him worry about something like that? Why would a government want to confiscate weapons? [/sarcasm mode]

It is believed police were tipped off by a disgruntled former crewman.

Mr Packer, 52, was questioned under Indonesia’s anti-weapons law No. 12, which carries 20 years or life imprisonment for those convicted of owning weapons without proper authority for “negative purposes”.

Will they have to prove “negative purposes”? Or will the onus be on Mr. Packer to prove the opposite?

The family has employed a legal team in Indonesia. Willy Packer, one of Mr Packer’s three brothers, is holidaying in Bali and will be by his side.

Here’s the only bright spot for Mr. Packer: He’s rich. He can afford the best in legal defense, and he may be able to pay his way out of a jail term. For Joe and Jane Average, however…

Mr Packer’s oldest brother Ron, a former commodore of the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, told The Sunday Times yesterday: “When he arrived in Indonesian waters he was concerned that if he declared his weapons and handed them to the authorities, he might never see them again. The waters he was sailing through are notorious for pirates.

After the Peru attacks he has always said that he would be dead had he not been armed. This is a storm in a teacup. The whole thing is getting out of hand.

“He had even cleared customs and was a couple of miles out to sea when police stopped him. That’s what’s so crazy about it. What are they trying to prove?”

Good question.

Mr Packer was making his world cruise on a 55m vessel.

He was a great friend of world yachting personality and New Zealand America’s Cup hero Sir Peter Blake, who was murdered by pirates on the Amazon River in 2001.

“He suffered badly over that. It hit him really hard,” his brother Ron said.

“That is another reason that he carried firearms. Everyone does when you sail in those waters.”

Then they ought not land in Indonesia.

The family said two of his brother’s weapons were used for clay-pigeon shooting off the boat.

Mr Packer’s father, retired ear specialist Dr Peter Packer, received a phone call from his son at 6pm on Friday.

“He rang to say they were leaving Bali when police boats came out and stopped them,” he said. “It seems he did not declare the guns.”

Mr Packer’s boat was impounded in Bali’s Benoa harbour after a search revealed four rifles, including a Ruger mini and two Mausers, an FN pistol and 2475 bullets, including 0.357(sic) magnum cartridges and magazines.

Mr Packer was held overnight for questioning in the jail at Benoa harbour and under police guard.

His Italian-born Peruvian girlfriend, and New Zealander Kenneth Brewster, 47, also were brought in for questioning. Another New Zealander Trevor Morris, Indonesian Budi Rachman, 29, and Spaniard Alvaro Roca, 23, were released.

Early yesterday police began a search of the 50-year-old restored Baltic trader flying a Cook Islands flag.

Police said it had been in Bali waters near Serangan Island for about a month. It was stopped 4km out to sea about 4pm on Friday after a tip-off from what police said was “a confidential source”.

Three police speedboats chased it and ordered Mr Packer to stop and let them board.

One police source said Mr Packer was then informed: “I have information that you have weapons on board” and he replied: “There are no weapons here.”

Police then boarded and searched the hold area, finding the weapons and ammunition in gun containers.

Col. Reniban said Mr Packer told investigators the weapons were for self-defence and hunting.

He said Mr Packer did not have appropriate Indonesian police licences to carry them and police were concerned to find ammunition but not the revolver it was designed for.

Dozens of officers with metal detectors and sniffer dogs searched the Lissa yesterday.

Mr Packer, looking sullen and dishevelled, accompanied police during the search yesterday, photographing onlookers with a small digital camera.

Mr Packer, a former property dealer and deer farmer in New Zealand, also had substantial interests in a mast-making company that was sold for about $20 million four years ago.

He bought the Lissa soon after the sale and it has been his home ever since. He sailed from Fremantle in May after a refit, stopping in Darwin to collect the registered firearms.

He was planning to sail to Phuket to take part in the Kings Cup regatta after leaving Bali.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “We understand that the man has legal representation and our cultural officials have made contact with his lawyer to offer assistance. We are hoping the matter can be resolved quickly.”

Crew member Trevor Morris, a New Zealander who has lived in Australia for many years, said yesterday that Mr Packer had declared and surrendered the weapons in New Caledonia and had a receipt for them.

Mr Morris said the weapons had been declared in Australia but it is understood they had not been declared in Indonesia.

Mr Morris said it appeared police had inside information, possibly from a Scottish backpacker couple who had left the boat on bad terms about seven or eight weeks ago.

I wonder, were the Scots gunphobes?

Good luck, Mr. Packer. You’re going to need it.

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