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New Australian Laws Target Terrorists Who Murder Australians Overseas


Australia has introduced new laws to prosecute terrorists who murder Australians overseas. They are part of a new package of measures drawn up in response to the recent bombings in Bali.

Australia has unveiled a raft of counter-terrorism measures in response to the Bali bomb blasts that killed more than 180 people, at least 90 of whom are believed to be Australian.

The new laws are designed to boost security abroad, bring murderers to justice in Australia and pay for information that would convict terrorists. They also would increase security at Australian embassies overseas.

After attending a national memorial service in Canberra for the Australians killed in the Bali bombings, Prime Minister John Howard announced the measures.

"This new legislation will be additional to the existing offenses relating to terrorism in the nature of the Bali bombings that already have extraterritorial effect and this legislation establishing the extraterritorial murder offense will have retrospective operation from the 1st of October," Mr. Howard said.

Australia and other Western nations suspect the extremist Islamic organization Jemaah Islamiyah may have been behind the bombings, which tore through two nightclubs on the popular tourist strip at Kuta Beach, on the Indonesian resort island.

Australia is among several countries asking the United Nations to list Jemaah Islamiyah as a terrorist organization. That would require U.N. members to impose a range of measures against the extremist group, including freezing its assets.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he expects at least 43 countries, including Indonesia, to support Australia's request.

"It has the potential to cripple JI as an organization and particularly an organization which depends for its successful operation on international cooperation," Mr. Downer said.

Although the proposed new laws would allow Australia to try anyone arrested in the Bali bombings, Mr. Downer says Indonesian suspects should be dealt with in Indonesia first.

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